Pigs boiled alive at Dutch slaughterhouses

Pigs boiled alive at Dutch slaughterhouses

According to inspection reports by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), requested by animal rights organisation Varkens in Nood, malpractice continues at pig slaughterhouses, with pigs being slaughtered while they are alive and aware – even though that’s against the law.

Pigs kicking and screaming

NVWA inspectors saw pigs drowning in boiling hot water, kicking and screaming, six times in the last one-and-a-half years. The report covers the period between January 2018 and May 2019. In several cases, pigs were neither killed properly nor adequately checked to make sure they were unconscious and were thus slaughtered alive and aware.

21 of the larger slaughterhouses in the Netherlands have a permanent NVWA inspector. Smaller slaughterhouses, however, are checked randomly. Inspectors make several rounds of the slaughterhouse throughout the day and intervene when they witness violations. At the moment, however, they cannot continuously oversee the whole slaughter process. It’s therefore possible that more violations have taken place but have not been reported.

Severely suffering

One inspector writes in the report “The pigs should be dead at this stage. I saw a pig be lowered into the scald tank and submerged in hot water that was around 60C. The animal went berserk, so much so that water gushed over the tank.” The subsequent animals were not dead either. The inspector’s remarks, “I saw various pigs pounding with their hind legs. I also saw a pig throw its head backwards and struggle desperately. The animal was still alive.” According to the inspectors, these animals suffered terribly.

Pigs are not only being boiled alive but also beaten and left to stand in their own faeces and urine. Some pigs had such serious infections that they could no longer stand. In one case, an inspector saw a live pig dumped on a pile of pig carcasses.

Not enough supervision

Malpractice at pig slaughterhouses is nothing new. According to animal rights organisations, violations continue to occur, as there is not enough supervision and fines are not high enough. One way to ensure constant supervision is cameras, seeing as Minister for Medical Care Bruno Bruins has said that the number of inspectors is not being increased.

According to Frederieke Schouten, a veterinarian at Varkens in Nood, many slaughterhouses do use cameras, but the images are the property of the slaughterhouse and inspectors are only allowed to look at them when they are physically at the slaughterhouse. “The only solution is independent camera surveillance on every slaughter line.” Schouten adds that, should a slaughterhouse misstep more than once, it should be closed immediately.

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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