Reaction on the report by ‘Animal Rights’


Press release

Exportslachthuis Tielt, which is part of the Debra-Group, was informed this afternoon of an ‘undercover’ report filmed in its slaughterhouse. The report contains a number of procedural violations that were filmed and compiled into one report. The images were recorded with a hidden camera over a period of one month and a half. This practice generates a lot off images, which results in a report that lets the audience to believe this to be the common practice, which it is not. This wouldn’t be possible due to the specialized, permanent external monitoring.

The management of Debra-Group wishes to emphasize that it is particularly shocked by the contents of the images and the procedural violations.

Debra-Group is a family company with close to 100 years of history, which has evolved over the years into a modern company that has invested considerable resources into the ongoing modernisation of the slaughtering process and the welfare of the pigs in and around the company. Debra-Group is one of the largest pig slaughterhouses in Belgium and employs 350 staff.

Facts and legal framework:

  • The company slaughters an average of 35,000 pigs/week in a modern slaughterhouse
  • The latest investment programme was launched in 2014 and focused on animal welfare, including a new unloading bridge with non-slip covering and a lower grade slope, new stalls with floor heating and misting, computer-controlled CO2 stunning, etc. Currently, the investment programme is almost completed.
  • The company complies with all legal regulations concerning animal welfare and food safety, in particular European and Belgian laws, as well as the service notes and circulars of the FASFC (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain). The company is certified compliant with the ACS & BRC food safety standards.
  • All employees receive annual training regarding animal welfare and are in the possession of a certificate from the LNE (Department of Environment, Nature and Energy).
  • The FASFC carries out constant monitoring of the slaughter activities.
  • Should the appointed veterinarians find violations of animal welfare regulations, such violations are reported to the Flemish Region’s animal welfare department.
  • In addition, customers regularly carry out scheduled and unscheduled checks and inspections.

Debra-Group takes these violations very seriously. The great efforts made by the slaughterhouse in the area of animal welfare cannot be reduced to nothing by the irresponsible behaviour of a few employees and external people.

Despite the fact that many cameras are already present on the premises (with the knowledge of the employees) for the purpose of monitoring the quality of the process, the management has established that some employees still fail to comply with procedures.

Based on the images, an internal investigation was launched today and the relevant authorities were informed. This morning the FASFC and the Animal Welfare Department have inspected the company. The management is in permanent dialogue with its customers, the industry federation and the authorities.

This morning, the management has addressed its employees and reminded them of their responsibilities. There are procedures in place for everything and these have to be followed rigorously. All employees and all external stakeholders involved in the slaughter chain repeatedly receive training on animal welfare.

At the same time, the company has switched from random quality control to continuous quality control in the concerned areas of the slaughterhouse.

The management will invest in additional training as well as extra cameras in order to maximally guarantee the process in terms of animal welfare. Finally, the number of Animal Welfare Officers will be increased from 1 to 3.

For more information:
Thomas De Roover – De Brauwer, CEO
Mobile: + 32 494 44 07 67