Ritual slaughter of animals excluded from new regulations

By Kieron Wood

killing of animals by Muslims and Jews is to be excluded from a new
European Commission animal welfare regulation dealing with conditions
for slaughtering animals.

Six of the 35s laughter plants
currently approved by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
provide ritual slaughter techniques.

Animals which are ritually
slaughtered are not stunned beforehand, but have their throats cut
while fully conscious. Orthodox Jews and Muslims are not permitted to
eat meat unless it is kosher or halal.

‘‘As freedom of religion
is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and also considered
in the protocol on the protection and welfare of animals annexed to the
treaty, that takes precedence in this particular case,” said a Dublin
spokeswoman for the commission.

A spokesman for the Department of Agriculture said
the number of animals slaughtered using these methods varied greatly
from month to month. ‘‘Orders are usually made on a batch basis,
depending on the customers’ requirements,” he said.

The European
Commission began a research project two years ago on issues relating to
religious slaughter. The project is due to end in October 2009, with
proposals to reconcile the demand for religiously-slaughtered meat with
requirements of animal welfare.

The regulation adopted by the
commission will bring existing rules into line with food hygiene
regulations. It will also require regular monitoring of stunning
equipment, to ensure that stunned animals do not regain consciousness
before being killed.

The regulation now has to be approved by the European Parliament.