France’s embattled Ministry of Agriculture announced that a “full investigation” will take place at the Sobeval veal slaughterhouse today in Dordogne with a full report expected tomorrow (Friday).
The announcement was made yesterday evening, after Le Monde and other leading publications published animal rights organisation L214’s shocking footage of the slaughterhouse as well as leaked internal emails from the authorities.
The announcement also came shortly after Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume lost his composure at France’s famous Salon de L’Agriculture and knocked the microphone – live on the air – right out of the hands of a France 5 TV journalist who dared to ask him about the slaughterhouse and his alleged “doublespeak”.
This latest development comes after the authorities accused animal rights organisation L214 of manipulating the shocking footage they released of the Sobeval veal slaughterhouse, in Boulazac in the south-western French department of the Dordogne, and after being caught out by compromising leaked emails that revealed they were saying one thing to the public and quite another internally.
French media report that the ministry is “embarrassed” and the Minister’s reaction at the Salon yesterday came as the France 5 journalist asked him to respond to accusations that he had a “doublespeak”. Visibly irritated by this qualification, Mr Guillaume suddenly hits the journalist’s extended microphone right out of his hands.
He angrily says: “I don’t do doublespeak.”
The journalist is surprised, with his open hands raised as if to ask what is going on.
Appearing to realise his misstep, Guillaume then said: “You put it in front of my mouth… I didn’t grab the mic…”
Video Credit: CEN/L214 (archive)
He then finally accepted to answer the journalist’s question, saying: “I tell you that I communicated according to the information that had been given to me.
“This information was clear enough, if I have the possibility of having new information I will give it, but today I have no new information and therefore I have no concerns… why do you put me the microphone in my mouth?”
Then asked by the journalist if on 23rd February he had any knowledge of the alleged “non-conformities” at the slaughterhouse, the minister then simply turns around and walks away.
The footage was shared on Twitter by ‘C a vous’, a show that airs on France 5 and which is hosted by Anne-Elisabeth Lemoine.
It can be seen here: https://twitter.com/cavousf5/status/1232737100514066442
The graphic slaughterhouse footage was shared last week by L214 and it shows blood pouring from the necks of calves as they fight for their lives with others trapped in tiny stalls. The animals’ meat is exported and their skins are sold to the world’s top designers.
A 67-page report released by animal rights organisation L214 targets the Sobeval factory – one of four owned by Dutch veal production company VanDrie – in Boulazac on the outskirts of Perigueux, the capital of the Dordogne department in the south-western French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
As well as meat products, the factory also produces leather for France’s top designers including Gucci, Chanel and Hermes.
This extremely disturbing 12-minute clip is reportedly but a small segment showing the violations L214 allege took place at a VanDrie factory. Activists claim to have over 6 hours of footage that they are submitting to the prosecutor’s office this morning (Thursday) along with a complaint.
L214 co-founder and head of investigations, Sebastien Arsac, told Central European News (CEN): “We are also filing a liability action against the [French] state.” L214 are demanding that the factory be immediately shut down and say Minister Didier Guillaume should resign.
In a statement, Sobeval had said that “there was no evidence of non-conformity” and that it intended to file a complaint against the animal rights organisation L214 over claims made about the abattoir – one of four owned by Dutch veal production company VanDrie – in Boulazac on the outskirts of Perigueux, the capital of the Dordogne department in the south-western French region of Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
Sobeval’s statement was echoed by the French authorities, with the slaughterhouse saying it planned to sue L214 for libel. But this was before bungling French Agriculture Ministry officials accidentally sent the animal rights organisation emails discussing the “undeniable violations” at the slaughterhouse at the same time they were publicly denying them.
Sebastien Arsac, the head of L214, has released a statement and he told Central European News (CEN): “Following a referral error, we were the recipient of email exchanges between senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture (Minister’s office, General Directorate of Food in particular). We can read in particular that a list of ‘undeniable and even major non-conformities’ has been compiled.
“This is completely contrary to what has been communicated publicly, namely that the slaughterhouse complied with the regulations and that our images had ‘not shown any non-compliance with the regulations.'”
Indeed, as can be seen from these images, L214 have released redacted screenshots appearing to show an intense communication taking place between various ministries and government branches, as well as veterinary bodies.
One of them from the Ministry of Agriculture even reads: “Yesterday evening, after communicating with [redacted], I made a list of all the undeniable and even major NCs [ed: Non Conformities] that were recorded! […]”