France's sordid abattoir history continues, this time revealed through a video filmed in a slaughterhouse in the city of Limoges in central France.
The video, which was published by animal rights group L214, focuses on how workers kill pregnant cows and throw the unborn calves into the bin.
It has once again catapulted the practices of slaughterhouses on to the front pages of newspapers.
The employee who made the film had worked at the abattoir for seven years but told the group that he was “revolted” by the practice and felt the message needed to be shared.
One of his responsibilities was throwing the nearly-born calves into the garbage bin, explains the video's narrator, French pianist Vanessa Wagner.
This was an act he reportedly did “several dozen times” a week.
The video shows that pregnant animals at the abattoir are regularly shocked with an electric jab, sometimes directly into their eyes.
It shows footage of cows in a panicked state trying to escape from the confines of the slaughterhouse before they are shocked.
Wagner explains that after the mother cow's throat has been slit, the foetus dies slowly inside from asphyxiation.
It then shows workers clearing away unborn foetuses, some still in their amniotic sacs. The foetuses are of varying ages, some just weeks old and some about to be born.
WARNING: This video contains graphic images that readers may find disturbing.
“As a mother, my heart was broken to see these calves suffocated to death in the bellies of the their mothers that had just been killed,” the narrator says.
“Meat and milk hide violence of unspeakable suffering.”
She urges viewers to sign a petition in the hopes of banning the killing of pregnant cows.
The petition, addressed to agriculture minister Stephane Le Foll, notes than an estimated 10 percent of cows killed in France are pregnant. L214 says some 170,000 are killed each year in France.
EU law states cows cannot be slaughtered if they have passed their eighth month of pregnancy, but L214 says the images some of the slaughtered cows are well beyond this point. The organisation wants the practice ended or at least the law toughened.
However abattoir director Pascal Pain insisted the video showed nothing illegal was taking place.
“The images of pregnant cows that I have seen do not reveal any irregularity, unlike the practice of bringing a camera into a place where taking pictures is subject to authorization,” Pain said.
“My job is to respect the regulations, not to have any qualms,” he added.
The horrific video comes after a so-called “animal-friendly” slaughterhouse in France was closed in February after L214 revealed shocking scenes of animal cruelty inside. A spokesperson for L214 said at the time that the such cruelty could be fought by consumers themselves.
“We want people to aware, to think about their own responsibility, and of course, to think about stopping eating meat,” she told The Local.
“These animals are sentient beings after all, just like cats and dogs.”
In October last year, another video from an abattoir in southern France emerged showing even more gory footage of animal slaughter.
The videos prompted a reaction from the government, which announced in March that it was launching a nationwide probe into potential animal cruelty at abattoirs around France.