By Lewis Panther, Vikki White, Mirror
WARNING GRAPHIC FOOTAGE AND IMAGES The slaughterhouse has supplies halal and kosher meat and has been used by Morrisons
In a slaughterhouse awash with blood, a frightened bullock ’s eyes widen in fear as the machinery it is trapped in raises its head so a knife-wielding butcher can hack open its neck.
Seconds later, as the animal kicks out in pain and panic, a bolt is shot through its brain to stop it injuring workers who yank it up upside down onto a hook, blood gushing from its twitching carcass.
In another area of the killing floor, cameras capture sheep being ferried along a metal pen where a worker casually lifts their heads and slashes their throats.
They are so distressed as they begin bleeding to death they wriggle over the sides and have to be hauled back in, legs flailing, and piled up at the end as they slowly die.
This chilling footage was taken during an investigation into a slaughterhouse which supplied Morrisons.
The abattoir which provides halal and kosher meat appears to ignore all standards of animal welfare despite the presence of a government inspector and two vets and boasting all staff have had proper training.
The Food Standards Agency was so horrified by the footage shot at Simply Halal’s abattoir that it has closed down its operation pending an inquiry.
The graphic video, made by an animal sanctuary, horrified even experts and regulators in religious ritual slaughter.
Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, head of certification at Halal Authority Board (UK), said: “This is one of the worst videos I have seen with regards to animal welfare and halal slaughtering. There appears to be little or no regard for animal welfare.”
British law requires all non-halal abattoirs to stun livestock first to prevent unnecessary suffering but there is an exception for Jewish and Muslim producers.
It is also an offence “to cause or permit avoidable pain, excitement or suffering to any animal” under animal welfare regulations.
And this footage appears to show the slaughterhouse not following the strict rules of Islamic Law.
These state the slaughterer must be a sane adult Muslim and they must say the name of God before making the cut – this did not happen.
Animals must not see other animals being killed. But the footage appears to show the sheep struggling and twitching on the floor and also hanging over a
conyeyor belt side-by-side.
A surgically sharp instrument must be used to cut straight through an animal’s throat to kill it instantly. The animal then must be allowed to bleed out.
Mr Ishaq added: “Animals should not be slaughtered in front of each other or mistreated.
“There are clearly signs in the video of the sheep being hit, running around.
“Slaughtermen should be trained for quick and effective kill – not the case in the clips shown.
“There also appears to be little attempt to restrain the animals properly and slaughter effectively.
“Also the knife does not appear to be regularly sterilised between kills.”
And a Muslim Council spokesman said: “I found the video very distressing to watch. I couldn’t watch all of it.”
Investigators from Hillside Animal Sanctuary who filmed the mayhem claim they have discovered such brutality is not just confined to religious slaughterhouses.
Spokeswoman Wendy Valentine said: “Hillside has filmed sufficient evidence that many animals in traditional British slaughterhouses suffer the same fate.
“They are often insufficiently stunned and suffer the same painful end, having their throats cut while still fully conscious.
“We’re in disbelief that the horrific cruelty to animals we filmed at Simply Halal was happening.
“Even the company’s own CCTV made no difference to the way that the animals were being inhumanely treated.”
The footage was shot at the company’s abattoir in Banham, Norfolk, over eight days in February and March.
Hillside says it was tipped off about the slaughterhouse by a government official and placed hidden cameras inside the building after finding doors unlocked.
They filmed sheep dangled from hooks on a conveyor belt that carry them up to a blood-letting rack.
One, still alive, fought for life so hard it fell 10ft off the hook with a resounding crack on the floor.
The Halal Authority Board’s Mr Ishaq added: “With regard to the bullocks – if they are killed with the bolt as shown then they are not Halal. I have no idea why that is being done, except to speed up the process.”
Simply Halal prides itself on being the “only dedicated halal abattoir in the United Kingdom for Beef & Lamb which is 100 per cent committed to supplying 100 per cent Non Stun Halal meat & meat products”.
The company’s website adds: “At Simply Halal there is no compromise, all of our products are 100 per cent Stun Free Halal. We are proud to supply the Muslim community.”
The firm switches its operations once a week to produce kosher meat for the Jewish market.
Denmark and Poland recently banned ritual slaughter without stunning. And there is a move change the law in Britain.
President-elect of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), John Blackwell, said: “We would like to see unstunned slaughter banned in the UK.
“There is scientific evidence which says that animals do feel pain if slaughtered without any stunning.”
But Roger Carr, who runs Simply Halal, seemed more shocked that Hillside had made a secret film than over the activities of his abattoir staff.
He said: “If they want to see how we do it they’re most welcome to watch. That’s what bugs me, nothing else, because we haven’t done anything wrong.
“We’ve got a vet here full time. We’ve got two meat inspectors. We’ve got an HMC inspector here full time. If there was a problem, they would tell us.”
A Food Standards Authority spokesman said: “We are halting slaughter operations at Simply Halal pending further investigation.
“Animal welfare is a top priority for the FSA and we will take appropriate action against any businesses and individuals who breach the strict rules that should be followed in all approved abattoirs.”
A spokesman for Morrisons said they no longer supplied by Simply Halal but when asked when this stopped they did not comment.
What is halal
Halal is the Arabic word for “lawful” or “permitted”.
The rules of slaughter are based on Islamic law – an animal has to be alive and healthy and the slaughter has to be done in the appropriate ritual manner.
The animal’s throat must be cut by a sharp knife, severing the carotid artery, jugular vein and windpipe in one.
Blood must be drained out of the carcass. During the process, a Muslim will recite a dedication.
Most Halal meat in the UK comes from stunned animals but some strict Muslims argue that Islam prohibits stunning.
Halal meat is estimated to account for up to 15% of meat sales within the UK.