Search Donate

Show results for
  • News
  • Videos
  • Action Alerts
  • Events
  • Resources
  • MEND

Religious slaughter back on the agenda

Religious slaughter back on the agenda

Categories: Latest News

Friday March 07 2014

The Times front page today (see also The Guardian and Daily Mail) features a story on the call by John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, for the debate on religious slaughter to be “moved forward so that the animals are stunned” prior to throat-slitting by Muslims and Jewish communities in keeping with religious requirements on halal and kosher meat.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Blackwell said:

“We are looking for a meeting of minds to review the evidence base which clearly shows that slaughtering animals without stunning compromises welfare. If that can’t happen then I would like labelling at the point of sale that gives the consumer informed choice. If that is not possible we would be looking for a ban for killing without stunning.”

The Times article notes, “Most animals killed for halal in Britain are stunned before slaughter but no creatures used for kosher meat are stunned. Mr Blackwell urged both faiths voluntarily to accept that it should be done, typically with a gun to the brain for mammals, and by electric shock for poultry.”

In response to Blackwell’s call for a ban, Channel 4 News Fact Check compares statistics on stunned and non-stunned meat in the UK using figures from the Food Standards Agency 2011 survey. According to the figures, over 80 per cent of cattle, poultry, sheep and goats are stunned before they are slaughtered in halal abattoirs.

In comparison, the number of animals not stunned prior to slaughter for both kosher and halal meat accounted for 3% of cattle, 10% of sheep and goats and 4% of poultry. With such a small fraction of slaughtered animals not being stunned, surely the debate on religious slaughter is overblown?

Blackwell’s remarks come on the back of a Lords debate prompted by a question from Lord Trees on “what assessment [the Government] have made of the ethical, legal and religious factors that influence the way in which some animals are slaughtered in the United Kingdom.”

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Lord De Mauley, responding to Lord Trees’ question said, “While the Government would prefer to see all animals stunned before slaughter, we respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat prepared in accordance with their religious beliefs.”

Shimon Cohen of Shechita UK, speaking to The Times, asked why the Government was only proposing to label religious methods of killing, rather than telling shoppers their meat comes from an animal which was “shot, gassed, electrocuted or drowned”, as happens with non-religious slaughter.

“I will be seeing the Muslim Council of Britain shortly,” he said. “We are at one on this.”


Find out more about MEND, sign up to our email newsletter

Get all the latest news from MEND straight to your inbox. Sign up to our email newsletter for regular updates and events information