Secret footage from inside a Sheffield slaughterhouse has captured what animal campaigners have dubbed "nightmarish scenes" of "cruelty."
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT WHICH SOME VIEWERS MAY FIND UPSETTING
In an undercover investigation, leading animal protection organisation Animal Aid placed hidden cameras inside the premises of N Bramall and Sons near Sheffield over four days in mid-October.
The distressing footage shows animals fighting for their lives before being stunned to death, frantically trying to escape from pens and also appears to show workers laughing as an animal lies dying on the slaughterhouse floor.
A statement from Animal Aid said: "In one clip, a severely distressed water buffalo fights for his life, by desperately attempting to jump out of a restraint box after witnessing other animals being slaughtered.
"Fearful sheep are documented running in circles to evade being stunned and in another incident slaughtermen are seen laughing as an animal is twitching on the floor, having just been shot. At one point the udder of a spent dairy cow explodes.
"On two occasions already-dead cows are brought into the slaughterhouse on a forklift truck - their bodies were butchered and entered the food chain."
Covert footage obtained from the premises, which is at Oxspring, near Sheffield, has been released by Animal Aid to expose what it called "nightmarish scenes" and says will reignite a row over animal cruelty.
Animal Aid's farming and slaughter campaigns manager, Luke Steele said: "Animal Aid’s latest investigation inside a UK slaughterhouse has yet again uncovered clear evidence of law-breaking and appalling animal suffering.
"There is no doubt that unlawful cruelty continues to be an inherent problem in abattoirs."
N Bramall and Sons opted not to comment on the footage.
A spokesman for The Food Standards Agency, which launched a probe after being made aware of the film said: “Animal welfare is a high priority for the FSA and we take all alleged breaches extremely seriously.
"When we received the footage, recorded covertly in N Bramall & Sons, from Animal Aid last Autumn we investigated immediately.
"We visited the business and reviewed the footage and records using our expert veterinarians.
"In their opinion there is nothing in the footage to suggest a serious breach of animal welfare regulations or that any avoidable pain, suffering or distress was caused to the animals.
“There were several incidents which involved overstocking in the stunning pen and some animals being held in the stunning box for too long before stunning.
"We issued written advice to the business to prevent this situation recurring. We also spoke to the plant management and the Animal Welfare Officer asking them to address the areas which could be improved, including refresher training for all slaughter staff."
“The FSA supports the mandatory use of CCTV in slaughterhouses in all live animal handling areas to help protect animal welfare. It does not replace direct oversight by management, or checks by officials, but it can improve their effectiveness. We recently met with industry representatives to discuss a joint CCTV protocol which it is hoped will set out the minimum requirements for FSA staff to access footage, frequency of viewing and retention periods for CCTV footage.”
Local MP,, Angela Smith, who represents Penistone and Stocksbridge, said: "The support for compulsory CCTV is being strengthened by yet more footage showing bad practice which is detrimental to animal welfare and also threatens public health.
"Distrust in abattoirs is growing and greater transparency is desperately needed.
"I would support compulsory CCTV but I would also say that abattoirs who are following legal processes and do not have anything to hide should install CCTV as a matter of voluntary good practice so that they do not lose trust and we can identify who the bad ones are that try to hide away.
"The public on the whole do not want to see animals treated in this way and the industry's reputation will be damaged."