Members of the Institute of Meat (IoM) recently undertook a private visit and tour to the abattoir and research facilities at Bristol Veterinary School at Langford, part of the University of Bristol.
At the invitation of Claire White, the specialist veterinary manager, the group was shown around the multi species small plant, which is run as a commercial concern in a teaching environment.“ Constructed in 1968 as an integral part of the Meat Research Institute, the Abattoir has gone on to become a major teaching resource to students from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge as well the Royal Veterinary College, and has become an asset to customers looking for professional slaughter and butchery services in the South West,” explained White.
The visiting IoM group were able to see and discuss examples of preserved pathology and parasitology specimens and the history of welfare at slaughter.Members of the visiting group included ABP, Castell Howell Foods, Aubrey Allen, Surrey Hills Butchers and The Booker Group.
Keith Fisher, chief executive of the IoM said: “The visit was a real eye opener and the facility offers a real opportunity for the industry to learn outside of the pressures of a commercial environment. Claire, Aled Daniels – Abattoir Manager – and his small team made us very welcome.”
The original purpose was as part of the meat research institute, analysing, dissecting and testing meat and its properties. As a consequence of this research the abattoir progressed to animal welfare and the effect of good welfare during the slaughter process and immediately before.
The University still run one of the most comprehensive Animal Welfare courses in the country delivered by experts with decades of welfare research and experience that is recognised worldwide. “Much as we would like to we do not, at present, have the facility to buy and sell animals and do not have a retail outlet,” said Claire. “What we offer is the finest slaughter service to smallholders, farmers and local businesses, processing their animals to welfare standards approved not only by the Food Standards Agency, but also Freedom Foods and the Soil Association. We also offer a butchery service to our customers.”
Pam Brook, editor of Meat Management, who joined the group said: “As an advocate of the meat industry demonstrating the skills, art and craft and particularly the science that underpins it I felt it was refreshing to hear Claire and her team be prepared to welcome educational visits through the processes involved in producing the best carcases possible.”
Following the visit the group entered a most interesting and energetic debate and discussion about how the meat industry needs to offer more consistent and positive communication about both itself and the products it produces.
Report by Pam Brook, Editor, Meat Management Magazine