The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs highlighted BVA recommendations in its report, including the request to introduce ‘clear labelling’ of meat and meat-products from animals that have not been stunned before slaughter.
BVA President James Russell said: “It is critically important that we have evidence-based legislation in place so that slaughter processes result in a humane death for animals, that minimises avoidable pain, distress, fear, and suffering.”
But he said there was ‘clear room for improvement’: “We’re pleased that several BVA recommendations were highlighted as key areas for improvements in the current regulations.
“The next step must be for the government to demonstrate its intentions to be a world leader in animal welfare across the board by implementing the recommendations, which are supported by vets, animal welfare experts, and industry.”
They said that by implementing clear labeling, the government could ensure supply of this meat could meet demand, as more animals could be being slaughtered in this manner than required.
The BVA argues that for animal welfare purposes, cattle, poultry and sheep should be pre-stunned before slaughter, meaning they are unconscious and insensible to pain.
Evidence on slaughter without pre-stunning, known as non-stun slaughter, shows that animals feel the pain of the neck cut; experience a delay in loss of consciousness (lasting up to 2 minutes in cattle); and are highly likely to suffer pain, suffering, and distress during the cut and bleeding.
Some parts of the Muslim community do accept pre-stunning. Figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) indicate that in 2018 58 per cent of all halal meat in England was pre-stunned.
Figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) indicate that in 2018 over 94 million cattle, sheep, and poultry were slaughtered in England without being pre-stunned.
A Defra spokesperson said: “The Government would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter but we respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim people to eat meat prepared in accordance with their beliefs.
“We expect the food industry to provide consumers with all the information they need to make informed choices, but we’ll be consulting on what can be done through labelling to promote even higher welfare standards in the UK.”