Animal health and welfare   /    Environmental sustainability   /    Processing    

What welfare and environmental rules and regulations must Australian meat processors follow?

Consumers are placing increasingly higher expectations on the Australian red meat and livestock industry about how animals should be cared for. In response, animal welfare standards and government regulations have become more stringent.

In addition, the industry has proactively developed the Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System to demonstrate its commitment to best practice animal welfare.

Meat processors follow regulations mandated by federal, state and territory animal welfare, environment, waste and planning legislation. Each state and territory has regulation in place to protect the welfare of animals during processing. These requirements are enforced by state inspectors and commercial auditors, and with premises that are preparing meat for export, the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Environmental legislation imposes management and licensing requirements (e.g. annual soil and water testing and reporting) along with offence provisions to prevent water, air and noise pollution.

Waste legislation provides a framework for managing wastes from waste avoidance, to re-use, recycling and energy recovery through to waste disposal.

Planning legislation stipulates the planning conditions to minimise the development’s impact upon the environment and surrounding community.

The Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments integrates the national Codes of Practice, relevant state and commonwealth legislation, research findings and other commercial requirements. They were developed and reviewed in consultation with the government, science and animal welfare organisations as well as industry representatives and technical experts, such as the world-renowned animal scientist Dr Temple Grandin.

The Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System is an independently audited certification program used by Australian livestock processors to demonstrate compliance with the Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments. It covers all animal welfare activities – from the moment livestock are received at the processing plant to the point of humane processing. The certification system is linked to a certified trademark that enables meat processors to demonstrate their commitment to best practice. The program boasts coverage of more than 80% of meat production and the trademark has been adopted commercially at some retail supermarkets in Australia.