Unstunned Halal and Kosher Meat

24 September 2010

Compassion in World Farming is calling on the UK Government to ensure that unstunned Halal and Kosher meat is not distributed to the wider communities and for greater transparency in terms of labelling.

Studies indicate that a substantial proportion of British Halal meat comes from animals which are stunned before slaughter.

Although there has been some lobbying against stunning, other major food bodies, supermarkets and food providers now insist on pre-stunning for all meat including Halal. Although some imported Halal may not be pre-stunned, all New Zealand lamb is.
We would urge the UK Government to insist that all Halal meat procured is stunned before slaughter. Above all, unstunned meat should not be served to the wider community.

The law requires animals to be stunned (rendered unconscious) before slaughter. However, the law gives an exemption to the normal rule that all animals be pre-stunned, allowing for animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning for Halal meat for Muslim communities and Kosher meat for Jewish communities.

This law is designed to ensure that meat from animals that have not been pre-stunned does not reach the general market for consumption by non-Muslim and non-Jewish communities. We have recently written to the Minister of State at Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) Jim Paice MP calling for the law to be upheld so that meat from unstunned animals is not sold or served to the general public but only to Muslims and Jews.

Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive for Compassion in World Farming, said: "We completely respect every individual's religious choice. However, it is illegal for slaughterhouses to slaughter animals without first stunning them unless they are satisfied that the meat is intended solely for the Muslim or Jewish communities. In our view it is also against the law for a company to sell or serve meat from unstunned animals to the wider general public."

Meanwhile, there is a need for up-to-date statistics to survey progress towards better welfare in the slaughter of meat for religious communities. We are requesting updated figures from the Government on the percentage of Halal meat that comes from pre-stunned animals.

Compassion in World Farming also believes that all food from animals that have not been pre-stunned should be labelled as such so that the consumer can make an informed choice.

We believe that farm animals should not and need not suffer.

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