1st April 2004; immediate use
Missed opportunity to ban religious slaughter condemned
Campaigning group accuse Government of failing animals
The failure of the Government to ban religious slaughter
without prestunning has been condemned by campaigning vegetarian
organisation Viva!. In its response, announced today, to
last year’s Farm Animal Welfare Council report on welfare
at slaughter, the Government has not taken up FAWC’s
recommendation that the current exemption from stunning before
slaughter which applies to animals slaughtered for halal
and kosher meat.
Viva! has led the campaign against this practice, having
published an opinion poll revealing that over 70 per cent
of the British population want to see an end to the practice
and tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion (No 104) which
has been signed by 77 MPs. It has film of Jewish and Muslim
slaughter and published a referenced report on the issue
which has been sent to all MPs.
All food animals in Britain are killed by having their throats
cut but the law requires that they are first rendered unconscious.
However, animals killed for Muslim halal and Jewish kosher
meats, can be slaughtered by throat cutting without prestunning.
It can take a cow 60 seconds to lose consciousness – a
calf twice this time. FAWC’s report spoke of the “very
significant pain and distress …” caused by throat-cutting
and called for the exemption permitting religious slaughter
without prestunning to be repealed.
Viva! campaigner Alistair Currie says “The Government’s
response to the FAWC report contains some measures which
will undoubtedly improve animal welfare but they have failed
to grasp the nettle of slaughter without prestunning. This
affects something like nine million animals a year. Not only
Viva! and the Farm Animal Welfare Council but the RSPCA,
too, are opposed to this practice because of the severe animal
suffering it causes. FAWC made the same call in 1985 – it
was ignored then and it’s going to be ignored again.
The evidence that cattle and calves remain conscious after
throat cutting for periods of up to several minutes is clear.
The minimum we might have expected was a mandatory post-cut
stun for cattle but instead the Government appears to have
no willingness to address this severe welfare problem. Fortunately
we have seen a change in attitudes to prestunning among many
Muslims which shows that values can change and progress.”
Notes for Editors
The survey was carried out by NOP World between 12-14 September
2003 amongst 1000 adults aged 15 +. The question asked was: “You
may or may not know that in Britain, the law requires that
all farmed animals are stunned and are unconscious before
being killed by having their throats cut. However, some groups
for religious reasons, are allowed to cut the throats of
fully-conscious animals without prestunning them. Do you
think that this practice should or should not be allowed
to continue?” 22 per cent believed it should still
be permitted, seven per cent didn’t know and 71 per
cent thought that killing animals in this way should not
be allowed to continue.
Copies of the video are available from Viva!. Viva! has
also published an extensive referenced report on this issue,
Going for the Kill, which can be viewed online at http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/ritual_slaughter/Goingforthekill.htm
An estimated 9-10 million animals are slaughtered without
prestunning each year, although no complete official record
of numbers is kept.
An estimated 80-90 per cent of animals killed for halal
in the UK are now pre-stunned, limited official figures suggest.
8 York Court
T: 0117 944 1000
F: 0117 924 4646