Compassion in World Farming believes that suffering at slaughter can be avoided, provided certain basic principles are met:
- The transport and handling of the animal prior to slaughter minimises stress
- Death is instantaneous, or
- The animal is instantaneously stunned and remains unconscious until dead
- The method of inducing unconsciousness and death is not in itself likely to cause stress
The law requires animals in the EU to be effectively stunned before slaughter. However, exceptions are made which permit some religious communities to slaughter without pre-stunning. This applies to slaughter by the Jewish method (Shechita) or by the Muslim method (Halal).
Compassion believes there should be no exemptions, and the law should be changed to require all animals to be effectively stunned before slaughter, regardless of the slaughter method that is then used (this also applies to mis-stunning in conventional abattoirs). We also believe that all slaughterhouses should have CCTV installed in order to assist with the monitoring of slaughter and to help prevent cruelty.
Loop-holes, poor enforcement, and a lack of suitable legislations can all impact the welfare of animals at the time of slaughter. There are a range of serious welfare concerns currently affecting vast numbers of animals across Europe.
- Derogations to EU law allow animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning for consumption by the Jewish and Muslim community. Slaughter without effective pre-stunning causes unacceptable suffering.
- In the EU around 1 billion chickens a year are ineffectively stunned prior to slaughter. They experience an agonising electric shock that fails to properly stun them followed by the full pain and fear of being slaughtered while fully conscious.
- It is becoming increasingly common across Europe to use high concentrations of CO2 gas to make pigs unconscious prior to slaughter. CO2 gas results in a burning and then drowning-like sensation and can cause around 15-30 seconds of very severe suffering prior to the pigs losing consciousness.
- Every year over 2 million animals are exported live out of the EU. They are sent to countries where they receive no legal protection at the time of slaughter. Many face agonising, drawn out slaughter.
- Roughly 1 billion fish are farmed and slaughtered in the EU each year. Most are slaughtered in ways that are inhumane and illegal. EU law requires fish to be spared avoidable suffering at slaughter. The technology exists to make fish unconscious prior to slaughter, but instead the vast majority are left to suffocate or killed while fully conscious in ways that cause immense suffering.
- It has become apparent that huge numbers of animals in the EU – roughly 18% of all sheep, and 27% of all goats – are not killed in official slaughter houses. This means that their slaughter goes entirely unregulated, and much of this is likely to be inhumane.
Ineffective pre-stunning in the UK
It has come to light that a huge number of chickens in the UK are being ineffectively stunned. This includes a considerable proportion of chickens stunned as part of ‘standard’ production and 80% of chickens which are slaughtered in the halal method. In practice the stunning being used only serves to immobilise and not render the birds unconscious, making the suffering even worse. This is cruel and in breach of EU law. On 19th May 2014 the UK Government U-turned on the implementation of rules that could have ensured the law is enforced.
Compassion believes the current situation is completely unacceptable and is demanding action be taken immediately. We are calling on the UK Government to close any loopholes that permit slaughter without effective stunning for either kosher or halal meat, and we believe that in the meantime all meat from animals who have been slaughtered with effective stunning should be labelled. On the Halal chicken issue we are insisting that stunning must meet EU legislation requirements to render the chicken unconscious before slaughter. To these aims we are also in dialogue with the Food Standards Agency, Halal Food Authority and food businesses.
What you can do
- In the current legal framework in the UK, it is hard to protect the welfare of animals at the time of killing. There are 3 basic steps that must be taken to protect animals at the time of killing; CCTV in slaughter houses, an end to non-stun slaughter and method-of-slaughter labelling. Please take action and call on the Government to take urgent steps to address these issues
- The European Commission has, time and time again, failed to take seriously the issue of the welfare of animals at slaughter. As a result, billions of animals suffer needlessly every year. Please call on the EU Commission to fulfil its role to protect animal welfare across all Member States.
At ‘Gadhimai’ Festival in Nepal in 2014, tens of thousands of farm animals were inhumanely slaughtered. This festival takes place every five years, so is expected again in 2019.
Please take action and tell the Nepalese Government that the terrible Gadhimai slaughter festival must never happen again.Take action
The following schemes/product lines use meat from animals which are stunned to kill (i.e. death is instantaneous), or ensure the animal remains unconscious until it dies.
- RSPCA Freedom Food
- Waitrose (on all their own brand chicken meat and products)
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Help us end factory farming
Millions of chickens illegally slaughtered
A government department U-turn alerts Compassion to the inhumane slaughter of millions of chickens
Chicken slaughter by the Halal method
FAQs - Halal chicken slaughter
Frequently asked questions on Halal chicken slaughter
Compassion’s investigations into slaughter reveal the treatment animals can face just prior to and at the time of death.