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Meat processing and animal welfare

In line with its mission to ensure that high standards of animal welfare are implemented, maintained and verified, the meat processing industry has proactively developed its own animal welfare standards and certification system to ensure animal wellbeing is its top priority.

Australian cattle, sheep and goats are ethically produced and humanely processed to strict animal welfare standards. Ensuring good animal health and welfare means processors:

  • Ensure livestock are assessed before processing to ensure they’re healthy and disease free
  • Move livestock calmly in yards using low-stress stock handling techniques
  • Ensure livestock do not suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress at the end of their lives.

Cattle lining up

How do Australian meat processors safeguard animal welfare?

The Australian meat processing industry’s mission is to ensure that high standards of animal welfare are implemented, maintained and verified. In 2005, the industry worked with the RSPCA to create government-approved best practice animal welfare standards. The Industry Animal Welfare Standards for Livestock Processing Establishments cover all animal welfare activities – from the moment livestock are received at the processing plant to the point of humane processing.

To demonstrate compliance with The Standards, the Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System was developed. It’s an independently audited certification program used by processors to demonstrate their compliance. The certification system is linked to a certified trademark that enables meat processors to display their commitment to best practice. The program has coverage of more than 80% of meat production and the trademark has been adopted commercially at some retail supermarkets in Australia.


Which animal welfare regulations must Australian meat processors follow?

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


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