A video uploaded on 29 February is going viral on social media, showing how a cow is slaughtered in an Ettelbruck slaughterhouse, seemingly without being anaesthetised beforehand.
The video, filmed with a smartphone, shows the man butchering the heifer doing so without regard for treating the animal with respect. The footage has done the rounds on social media and caused a considerable amount of uproar. Broadly, concerns surround whether animals suffer in a Luxembourgish slaughterhouse and whether the slaughterhouse is breaching the animal protection law.
In the above video, our colleagues at RTL Television visit the slaughterhouse to accompany animals on their last journey, a process often observed by students of the Agricultural School. We should stress that the above video (in Luxembourgish) does show footage from inside the slaughterhouse, but not the actual butchering process. It does briefly show scenes from the viral video, which have been blurred. We advise viewer discretion as scenes could be upsetting.
The video on social media has upset many, including the management of the Ettelbruck slaughterhouse - albeit for a different reason. Manager Claude Graff confirmed that the footage depicts the slaughterhouse in question, adding that what he finds most shocking is the cruel behaviour of the employee depicted. "There are no ethics, no respect for the animal shown. That employee no longer works here," he explained.
Killing animals for food remains an obviously contentious topic, as animal rights activists believe consuming meat in any way is a cruel act. Those in charge of a slaughterhouse certainly have different views, but emphasise that in slaughtering animals, there remains a need to respect the animals in question and ensure their well-being beyond death. This is a process that should begin with the farmer and continue until the slaughterhouse. Graff said that employees are trained and that this is not simply theory.
As for the video itself, put online a mere week ago, this was actually recorded three years ago. Nowadays, the slaughterhouse has fitted security cameras and employees are reminded to treat animals with respect. Graff acknowledged that the events show in the video did take place, but is certainly not an everyday occurrence. He added that the slaughterhouse ensures it stuns each animal.
Vet Raoul Putz, who regulates the slaughterhouse for the Veterinary Agency, also reacted to the video, stressing that animals destined for slaughter in Luxembourg are usually stunned into unconsciousness prior to their slaughter to ensure a death with less suffering. He explained that the mandatory stunning did in fact occur before the controversial footage was taken. "The muscular cramps tell us that the brain was [...] turned off," he added. The cramps are due to spinal cord reflexes, which do not indicate that the animal was conscious.
According to the Veterinary Agency, the slaughtering of animals is subjected to tight security barriers - it would otherwise be a catastrophe.