The UK abattoir industry slaughters over 26m units of livestock each year yielding in the region of 2m tonnes of red carcase worth a net contribution of £1.67b to the economy. The food industry defines meat obtained from mammals (regardless of cut or age) as red meat, this is because it contains more myoglobin than white meat obtained from poultry and fish.
Abattoir workers must hold a valid licence to operate, which is known as a certificate of competence in order to comply with the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) legislation, issued by the Food Standards Agency. Individuals must be over 18 years to obtain a certificate of competence, which entitles them to work in specified areas monitored by the official veterinarian.
From receiving animals in the strictly controlled handling (lairage) facility and through the slaughter process, abattoir workers need to be empathetic and respectful of animals. Team work and diligence is part and parcel of the role as well as upholding professional behavioural standards in accordance with Standard Operating Procedures. Those with aptitude and dedication can progress to managing the slaughter-line or cutting/de-boning operations, becoming an Animal Welfare Officer (AWO).