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Halal abattoir found abusing animals at slaughter

Halal abattoir found abusing animals at slaughter

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday February 03 2015

The Independent front page today covers shocking footage from an abattoir in Yorkshire where slaughterers were filmed on secret cameras subjecting animals to unnecessary cruelty.

One member of staff has since been dismissed for gross misconduct and a further three are facing internal investigation after the animal welfare charity, Animal Aid, placed secret cameras in the abattoir to film slaughter practices and uncover any breaches of the law.

The Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Times and ITV News all cover the story with each mentioning the petition to ban unstunned slaughter which last week surpassed the 100,000 threshold needed to prompt a parliamentary debate on the issue. A ban on the exemption granted to religious communities, Muslims and Jews, to observe their dietary laws has been opposed by the British Veterinarian Association and the RSPCA, among others, as conflicting with animal welfare rights.

Interesting in the news articles is the omission of a wider context to the issue of animal welfare. Kate Fowler, head of campaigns at Animal Aid is quoted in the papers as saying, “This is the 10th slaughterhouse in which we have filmed undercover, and it is the ninth to be caught breaking animal welfare laws.”

There is no further exploration of the other 8 slaughterhouses in which violations were detected. In her statement, Fowler makes clear that the Bowood Lamb abattoir at Thirsk in Yorkshire is the first slaughterhouse targeted by Animal Aid in which non-stunned methods are used. Which only begs the question what sort of cruelty was uncovered in the slaughterhouses which used stunned methods? Which only begs the question what sort of cruelty was uncovered in the slaughterhouses which used stunned methods? And has this received comparable news coverage as the abuse uncovered in the halal facility?

It is clear that the men filmed abusing the lambs and violating legal requirements in the slaughter of animals were not behaving in accordance with Islamic law which sets its own stringent standards on observing ‘halal’. The Daily Telegraph notes this quoting Fowler as saying “such treatment was unrelated to religious practice”.

Fowler also goes on to state “A body of evidence demonstrates that this is not a credible position [slitting the throat causes no pain to the animal], and our new footage removes any remaining doubt. Rather than animals being treated with compassion and being uninjured prior to the fatal cut, we see them routinely treated with gratuitous violence and contempt.”

It would be unfortunate if the basis of galvanising support for a ban on religious slaughter was the filming of abuse uncovered at a single slaughterhouse in the UK.

The secret camera footage does raise some very important questions on the oversight role performed by the veterinarian on site; on the use of CCTV cameras in all abattoirs, as supported by the Food Standards Agency, and the pertinent question of trespassing on private property and subterfuge methods by animal rights activists.

Transparency is indeed of value in this debate and the rolling out of CCTV cameras in abattoirs would go some way to ensuring compliance by those tasked with the slaughter of animals in accordance with the law; statute and religious law. If Animal Aid were to release the footage from the other slaughterhouses at which violations were detected, we might also learn more about cruelty arising from stunning animals, and the debate will seem less biased against Muslims and Jews.


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