The campaign to end non-stun slaughter to improve animal welfare at the time of death has been stepped up with the launch of a government epetition by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), with the support of the RSPCA, at www.bit.ly/stunB4slaughter.
European and UK legislation requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain. However, a derogation in the legislation allows animals to be slaughtered without stunning for certain religious communities - Dhabihah slaughter for Halal food and Shechita slaughter for Kosher food. It is important to note that over 80% of Halal slaughter in the UK is pre-stunned.
Scientific evidence shows that slaughter without pre-stunning compromises animal welfare; a position supported by the Humane Slaughter Association, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe. BVA and RSPCA are therefore renewing their call for an end to the practice.
BVA is also concerned that meat from non-stun slaughter is entering the market unlabelled because there is no requirement to label meat and meat products with the method of slaughter. The hindquarters of animals killed by the Shechita method are not Kosher and therefore enter the mainstream market unlabelled.
With animal welfare high on the list of UK consumer concerns BVA and RSPCA are calling for clearer labelling so that people can make an informed choice.
BVA hopes to achieve 100,000 signatures to the epetition so that consideration will be given to a debate in the House of Commons.
Launching the epetition BVA President and veterinary surgeon Robin Hargreaves said:
“BVA has long believed that slaughter without pre-stunning unnecessarily compromise animal welfare at the time of death. It affects millions of animals every year and action is long overdue.
“When the issue hit the headlines recently we were overwhelmed by the letters of support from members of the public as well as our own members, so we hope to get a lot of support for our campaign.”
David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs, said:
“We are supporting the BVA’s petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter because it is a practice that can cause suffering to millions of farm animals in the UK.
“We recognise that religious belief and practices should be respected but we also believe that animals should be slaughtered in the most humane way possible.
“Non-stun slaughter can result in the animals experiencing very significant pain and distress and that is why we feel more needs to be done to end this suffering.”
It is important to note that the campaign does not relate to the expression of religious belief but to concern about animal welfare.
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