Gosschalk slaughterhouse in Epe, Netherlands, has been fined €15,000 and employees face criminal prosecution, for mistreating animals. Investigations from animal rights activists produced an undercover video of pigs and cows being beaten with paddles, pulled by the tail and given unnecessary electric shocks on the way to slaughter. It is believed this is the first time a Dutch slaughterhouse has been sanctioned for the mistreatment of animals.
Varkens in Nood recorded the images in 2020 and campaigned for obligatory cameras in all slaughterhouses. Its director, Frederieke Schouten, said Dutch News this about the fine: “For a big company, it’s not a lot of money but on the other hand, we think it is an extraordinary step. It doesn’t happen often that a slaughterhouse itself, the business, is fined at all for mistreating animals. It is normally for hygiene matters, but animal welfare is not often a reason for punishment via criminal law. We think it is a good thing and very significant.”
The NVWA Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority closed the slaughterhouse for eight weeks in 2021 when the footage came to light, McDonald’s and Boni cancelled contracts with the abattoir, and the company went down and had to be taken over by Fuite, a feed company from Genemuiden. At the time, Carla Schouten, the then agriculture minister, called the images “unacceptable” and pledged to reduce the speed of slaughter at such facilities.
The OM public prosecutor said in a press release, “The investigation did not show that the director (the de facto manager) of the slaughterhouse gave active instructions for the banned behaviour, but would rather have played a passive role…The public prosecution believes the director has already been severely punished for his (negligent) actions.” However, the OM will prosecute those employees accused of criminal mistreatment of animals, who, if found guilty, are expected to be given community service sentences.