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Millions of chickens illegally slaughtered

News Section Icon Published 02/06/2014

A government decision not to implement new regulations on slaughter mean millions of chickens could suffer horrific deaths in the UK every year.

Compassion has learned that government regulations, designed to ensure EU rules on slaughter from January 2013 were fully applied, have been withdrawn before coming into force.

At the moment, Compassion understands that the level of electric current being used in waterbaths to stun chickens for Halal meat are such that many of the animals will merely receive a nasty electric shock, which will immobilise them and leave them fully conscious when they have their throat cut.

The EU Regulation on the protection of animals at the time of killing, which came in on 1 January 2013, stipulates currents for waterbath stunning that should ensure an effective stun, so that the chicken will remain unconscious long enough for its throat to be slit.

But in an as-yet unexplained move, Defra has decided to continue using a previous law, the 1995 Regulations on the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) – WASK – instead of introducing the new rules the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK), which would have ensured the EU Regulation was properly enforced.

The Welsh Minister for Natural Resources and Food Alun Davies, who brought in the new rules in Wales, seems baffled as to why Defra has taken the decision. In a written statement, he says:

I have not been informed of the reason behind their decision and have written to the Rt Hon Owen Patterson MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to express my concern regarding their actions.

Compassion is urgently seeking an answer from Defra as to how they intend to resolve this issue and is working intensively with Food Businesses to ensure understanding in the industry.

Urgent action is clearly needed to avoid animal suffering. If you agree, and you haven’t already done so, you can help the issue get the attention it deserves by signing the British Veterinary Association’s government petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter in the UK.