‘Ritual’ slaughter data to be published by FSA
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday August 17 2016
The Times returns to its support for the British Veterinary Association’s campaign to end the exemptions applied to Muslim and Jewish communities on religious slaughter practices in an article in today’s paper which refers to an undertaking by the Food Standards Agency to publish “regular reports” on “how many slaughterhouses were stunning or not stunning” animals before slaughter.
The Times newspaper on Saturday 13 August published an article in which it claimed the FSA’s “new monthly survey of abattoirs will not routinely record the number of animals killed under exemptions granted to Muslim and Jewish slaughtermen allowing them not to comply with the general legal requirement to pre-stun.”
In response to the article, FSA chairwoman Heather Hancock, has a letter published in today’s edition of the paper in which she affirms the agency will gather “information on the numbers of animals that are slaughtered in UK abattoirs without being stunned” and make that information available to the public.
The data will “show the number of establishments in England and Wales using non-stun slaughter or a combination of stun and non-stun slaughter,” she said.
The Times follows up on the letter in an article quoting the BVA president, Sean Wensley, who told the paper that there was a “mis-match” between the amount of non-stunned meat prepared for consumption by Muslims and Jews and the volume of such meat entering the main food chain.
Wensley told the paper, “The exemption in legislation that allows for non-stun slaughter is to provide food for certain religious communities. There should only be a quantity of non-stun slaughter that allows for that, and that alone. A significant proportion of sheep and goat meat in particular from non-stun slaughter is going outside the communities for which it is intended, which is contrary to the legislation.”
It is not clear from the FSA’s commitment to publishing the data on a regular basis and the argument advanced by the BVA about “matching” supply to demand, how meat prepared for external markets will be affected by any restrictions which constrain calculations on demand and supply to the size of British Muslim and Jewish communities. That there is a “mis-match” us quite likely affected by the amount of religiously slaughtered meat that is prepared for export markets.
As for the issue of meat labelling, which underlies the BVA’s call for transparency over how much meat is slaughtered according to religious edict, Muslim and Jewish communities have fully supported comprehensive meat labelling including the labelling of “mis-stunned” meat, that is animals which have been killed by means of captive bolt shooting, gassing, electrocution, drowning, trapping, clubbing or any of the other approved methods, so that consumers may indeed make informed choices before they buy.
There is a further point of interest to the story about publishing the data from abattoirs in England and Wales: given the attention such places attract from far right groups intent on protesting outside such places or “invading” the premises and harassing customers with claims of “funding terrorism,” what steps will the FSA take to ensure police and local councils put in place measures to protect slaughterhouses from unwarranted and unwanted agitators?