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Animal Rights once again reveals gruesome images from a Flemish slaughterhouse

Nieuws: 23 juni 2020

Animal Rights once again releases terrible footage from a Flemish slaughterhouse. This time it concerns pig slaughterer Van Hoornweder from Torhout. A maximum of 650,000 pigs are slaughtered each year in this slaughterhouse. This slaughterhouse exports its ‘products’ to many countries, including the UK and Ireland. Animal Rights demands closure of the slaughterhouse and an investigation into the abuses.

Animal Rights asks how it is possible that after all the uproar surrounding our previous undercover footage, these abuses continue to persist.

Erwin Vermeulen, Animal Rights

Structural abuse in Flemish slaughterhouses

Animal Rights previously filmed in the slaughterhouses of Tielt, Izegem and Hasselt. At every location, the animals were horribly abused. Each time the slaughterhouses assured that improvements would be implemented and the Belgian government promised to take corrective measures. This new 2019 footage from the Torhout pig slaughterhouse shows that nothing has changed.

Animals unfit for transport

The pig breeders and transporters still supply animals unfit for transport. We see pigs that are too crippled to get out of the trucks on their own or are limping their way out. We see pigs with prolapses, pigs with necrotic wounds, pigs with huge abscesses and heavily pregnant sows. Some sows spontaneously abort their piglets on their way to the waiting area.

Drowned alive

Some pigs wake up after anesthesia. Some pigs are still alive even after their throat has been slit. They wake up screaming, hanging upside down from a chain in the slaughter line. Alive and conscious they drown in the scalding bath.

"Animal Rights asks how it is possible that after all the uproar surrounding our previous undercover footage, these abuses continue to persist," explains Animal Rights campaigner Erwin Vermeulen. "Shouldn't we conclude that the ‘production’ of meat is simply impossible without excessive animal cruelty?"

Inspection reports

The abuses related to the anesthetic procedures are not only apparent from the footage, but also from the inspection reports that Animal Rights obtained: “At 14h39 I notice that a sow regains consciousness (eyelids open, pulls on the chain) just before she goes into the scalding bath. At that time, no staff member was present to intervene.”

The inspection reports show that the problems with anesthesia of pigs has been a problem since at least 2017. On January 12 of that year, an inspector reports: “When entering the slaughter room where the pigs are raised by one leg, I notice that several animals are hanging screaming and floundering. The animals are clearly not properly anesthetized or regain consciousness before being slaughtered. The workers just keep going without looking at the animals.”

The frustration about these ongoing problems are tangible in one inspector's notes: "These are clear breaches of the animal welfare laws that have been constant for several months and can no longer be tolerated."

Shouldn't we conclude that the ‘production’ of meat is simply impossible without excessive animal cruelty?

Erwin Vermeulen, Animal Rights


Pig farmers and transporters still deliver animals unfit for transport to the slaughterhouse. The slaughterhouse and government agencies are unable or unwilling to end this.

Pigs experience fear, stress and, no doubt, also pain, throughout the slaughter process from arrival to death. The anesthetic procedures do not work adequately, pigs are regularly conscious while their throats are slit and/or die a horrible death, drowning in the scalding bath. This has certainly been the case since 2017, according to the inspection reports.

Slaughterhouse staff are insufficiently trained to detect recurrent consciousness in the animals or are uninterested in the suffering of the animals. Their superiors in the slaughterhouse do not intervene.


Animal Rights demands immediate closure of the Torhout slaughterhouse, an independent investigation into the operation of this slaughterhouse, and the firing and prosecution of those responsible for the animal abuse.

Animal Rights would also like to see an investigation into all slaughterhouses and the functioning of the agencies charged with the inspection and oversight of the slaughter process.


Animal Rights, together with GAIA, has filed a complaint against the slaughterhouse. The complaint is based on the abuses seen in the footage and inspection reports. The complaint includes the following infringements:

1) Animals regain consciousness after the CO² stunning.
2) The Animal Welfare Officer does not adequately perform his/her duties.
3) The 'unloading' of entire floors with pigs simultaneously from the truck instead of in small groups.
4) The transport of high pregnant sows and/or sows that have recently given birth to piglets.
5) Animals are lying on the floor in the corridors and waiting area; they can no longer walk independently and are suffering without redemption.
6) Animals with open or necrotic wounds, abscesses, prolapses, etc. are brought in by the pig breeders and transporters and accepted by the slaughterhouse and by public authorities with monitoring tasks.

The above infringements contravene the Animal Welfare Act of 14 August 1986, European Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 of 24 September 2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing and Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 of 22 December 2004 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations.