The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) has laid charges of animal cruelty against a Tiger Brands-run abattoir that it claims is slaughtering animals inhumanely.

According to NSPCA spokeswoman Grace de Lange, the organisation determined that the Pork Packers Abattoir in Olifantsfontein has been using a particularly cruel method of “stunning” its pigs before slaughter.

De Lange said the abattoir used carbon dioxide to pre-stun the animals to incapacitate them, though before this the pigs enter a state of extreme panic. “After exposure to the CO2 gas, the pigs suffocate as a result of the lack of oxygen. But until they lose consciousness, the pigs display violent reactions, including panic-like symptoms such as kicking, gasping and frantic efforts to escape by climbing on top of one another,” said De Lange.

The NSPCA provided the police with a disturbing video showing the animals just prior to their death to bolster its case. “We believe that if we are going to eat meat, the very least we can do is ensure that the animals’ welfare is considered and to ensure humaneness from birth to death,” said De Lange.

Tiger Brands has recognised the laying of the criminal charges at Olifantsfontein police station, and claimed the abattoir was complying with all legal standards.

“While Pork Packers understands the role the NSPCA plays, the NSPCA is not the regulatory authority for meat products and its demands of the company, and criminal charge laid against Pork Packers, are neither valid, rational nor in the interest of the animals,” said Tiger Brands managing executive Andrew Cocks.

“We believe it is necessary to employ measures to avoid pain and minimise distress and suffering of animals in the slaughtering process. We take into account the best practices in the field and the methods under the regulations.”