Ethical debate around religious slaughter continues as politicians publish latest report

Ethical debate around religious slaughter continues as politicians publish latest report

An all-party parliamentary group has published a report into the continuing ethical debate around religious slaughter and the issues around stunning and non-stunning.

For meat to be halal an animal is required to meet its end at the hands of a slaughterman with a knife but some Muslims remain concerned about stunning fearing that it could kill the animal outright.

Whilst the vast majority of halal meat in the UK comes from stunned animals the all-party group reviewed various evidence and its findings state: “One of the methods that can be used to demonstrate that the stun does not kill the animal is the ability to demonstrate the animal’s recovery post-stunning. Demonstration of recoverability is not currently permitted within the UK…”

Dr Phil Hadley of EBLEX told Meat Management: “Some British Muslims need to be reassured that an animal has died at the hands of a slaughterman’s knife and demonstrating recoverability does compromise the welfare of an animal. Is that welfare compromise worth accepting to then mean that a million sheep are stunned? It’s a sacrifice for the good and I fully appreciate is a tricky ethical dilemma.”

In a letter to party leaders , president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) said: “We have always made it very clear that we are not concerned with the practising of religious belief, but with the throat cutting of animals that have not been rendered insensible to pain.

“Recent media coverage has revealed a very strong feeling amongst the general public for better labelling about the provenance of food they are buying and eating. We very much hope you will listen to this sentiment and take forward the debate about clearer food labelling.

“Proposals to label all Halal and Kosher products will do nothing to inform the public about the very proper concerns regarding welfare at slaughter and could fuel further confusion and potentially feed prejudice.

“Halal labelling does not recognise that around 88% of halal slaughter in the UK is pre-stunned. At the same time the 12% that isn’t stunned, along with the hindquarters of animals slaughtered by the Shechita method that are not Kosher, could continue to enter the mainstream food chain unlabelled.

“If labelling is to be progressed, we want the discussion to move away from one about ‘Halal’ and ‘Kosher’ and instead for labelling to show whether meat is from stunned or non-stunned animals.”

The BMPA is opposed to any compulsory labelling on the grounds that it would be an additional burden to industry and, it said: “Most consumers have no wish to know the details of how animals are slaughtered.”

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