New regulations for slaughter delayed
Categories: Latest News
Friday June 13 2014
The Mail on Sunday, The Sunday Express and The Times continue to fuel the halal meat debate with news coverage on the delay to implementing proposed new laws to reduce the suffering of chickens at time of slaughter.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, a spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) stated that despite the existence of ‘robust’ regulations for animal welfare, “We realised that our regulations might have unintended consequences in that they could limit religious freedoms.
“This is a complex area and we need to get it right.”
The proposed legislation states that “No person may kill an animal in accordance with religious rites without prior stunning unless it is a sheep, goat, bovine animal or bird killed in a slaughterhouse.
“Nothing in this Schedule applies to the killing of animals in accordance with religious rites which are stunned before killing, but in such cases an animal must be restrained and stunned.”
With regards to the method of killing, the legislation notes:
“Any person engaged in the killing of a bird in accordance with religious rites without prior stunning must ensure: (a) the bird is killed by the severance of both of its carotid arteries by rapid, uninterrupted movements of a hand-held knife; (b) the knife to be used for killing is (i) undamaged; and (ii) of sufficient size and sharpness to kill each bird.”
The papers claim that the proposed measures would have forced abattoirs to use stronger electric shocks to stun chickens before they are killed in order to ensure the birds are insensible upon slaughter.
According to the Mail on Sunday, the laws have been put on hold “unexpectedly” despite research claiming that chickens tend to be conscious and suffer pain when slaughtered.
The Mail on Sunday also claims that DEFRA has halted the legislation on Welfare of Animals At The Time Of Killing on 19 May ‘after Muslims complained they would undermine their rights to slaughter the birds according to Islamic rituals.’
Putting the media’s angle on the story to one side, it would seem the decision to halt the implementation was prompted because, as documented in an explanatory note, “An impact assessment has not been produced for this instrument”.
In spite of this, the papers seem to have capitalised on animal welfare groups’ disappointment at the delay to implement the regulations and, in particular, makes no mention of Jewish religious rites which would feature in any impact assessment on the proposed measure.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA)’s President, Robin Hargreaves, proclaimed that “Failure to implement the new regulations risks a percentage of chickens being ineffectively stunned, thus compromising animal welfare.” The BVA recently announced its support forunstunned slaughter to be banned in the UK.
The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday have given considerable column inches to the campaign by the BVA to push for a ban on religious slaughter in the UK. It has also, in much of its coverage, presented the campaign as one against halal slaughter and not religious slaughter in general.