Tom Heap believes schools should visit slaughterhouses.

Tom Heap

Tom Heap

The 'Countryfile' presenter thinks every education facility should be required to visit an abattoir as part of the national curriculum, or at least be shown webcam footage of every part of the food production process.

Writing in Radio Times magazine, he said: "I honestly believe that slaughterhouses, intensive chicken barns or crowded pig pens should be open to the public eye.

"Schools should be encouraged to visit as part of the curriculum.

"This may sound absurd but at least install a webcam at every stage of production, put a hyperlink on the final package and brand it 'The Visible Pig' or 'Candid Cockerel'."

The 52-year-old star thinks the measure would be useful because people would know more about where their food is coming from before they eat it.

He said: "There could be see-through tunnels, as in an aquarium, through the farm and across the meat-processing floor, for a nice family day out before having a pork pie or some chicken nuggets, or a salad."

Tom co-presented 'Countryfile' for nine years, and believes the rural affairs series should not avoid sensitive issues such as animal cruelty, despite the programme's family audience.

He said: "The public cares about the welfare of the animal and the health of the environment behind the food on their plate."

The presenter claims some farmers are "nervous" about letting cameras in, but believes it is important to show the public how animals are treated and not to let the narrative be dominated by animal rights groups' "own version of how animals are treated".

He said: "Much of the farming industry is nervous about letting the cameras in ... for me, secrecy breeds malpractice inside and, frequently unjustified, suspicion on the outside.

"It's very easy for campaign groups to fill in the void with their own version of how animals are treated."