John Blackwell, president elect of the British Veterinary Association and practising vet, supported the idea, saying: “I think the proposals are all about choice – if people want to consume halal and they don’t have a strong opinion about stunning then they have a freedom of choice to do that.
“Our position remains that animals should all be stunned prior to slaughter such as that they’re rendered insensible to pain at the point of death.
“All the evidence I’ve seen and interpreted suggests there is a welfare issue associated to the perception of pain during the period between the throat being cut and the animal’s loss of sensibility.”
Dr Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA’s farm animal science department, said: “We want to see all animals rendered unconscious before slaughter.
“Until that time we are calling for clear labelling so shoppers are armed with information that can enable them to make an informed choice about whether they buy meat from animals which have not been stunned before slaughter.”