UK: Parliamentary group calls for more halal labelling research

halal logoAn all party parliamentary group (APPG) for beef and lamb has published a report calling for more research into labelling of halal products.

As reported by labelling of halal products has come under intense scruntiny recently and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched an epetition calling an end to non-turn slaughtering.

The report by The Beef and Lamb APPG, a cross-party group of MPs and peers which aims to ensure that parliamentarians are fully briefed by industry, suggests more research should be done in certain areas. The report highlights the measurement of pain in animals at the time of slaughter; concerns among religious groups that the bleed-out of the carcass is affected by stunning and whether there are methods of recoverable stunning that would be acceptable to some halal consumers, as areas which require further investigating.

The report also suggested a “broader and more measured view” needs to be taken in the media coverage of halal slaughtering.

BVA president and veterinary surgeon Robin Hargreaves highlighted the association had similar concerns: “BVA has long held the position that slaughter without pre-stunning unnecessarily compromises animal welfare at the time of death. We are also concerned that meat from non-stun slaughter is entering the market unlabelled because there is no requirement to label meat and meat products with the method of slaughter. We believe strongly that food should be labelled as stunned or non-stunned and we are delighted that the APPG supports the BVA call for clearer labelling.

“The issue of non-stun slaughter continues to generate media and political interest, and rightly so. Scientific evidence shows that slaughter without pre-stunning compromises animal welfare; a position supported by the Humane Slaughter Association, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe and the European Food Safety Authority. We have a moral obligation to each animal we keep: any unnecessary pain should be eliminated,” Hargreaves concluded.


See below response to this petition from the Halal Authority Board:

Dear Mr Hargreaves

We continue to remain concerned that as president of the British Veterinary Association, you have not responded to our email dated 6th June 2014.  As a responsible professional we do expect a reply to your continuous attacks against the Muslim and Jewish communities method of halal and kosher slaughter.  Your comments appear to have no bearing on animal welfare issues, rather appear racially or politically motivated.  We have highlighted below areas of blatant cruelty that need to be addressed which affect the whole life of animals in the UK and you wish to focus on the last few seconds which are undertaken most humanely in our respective religious methods of slaughter.

It is due to comments such as yours that the public are mostly unaware of the fact that religious slaughter is and remains the most humane and that you wish for them to obtain comprehensively labelled products.  In this way, they will remain ignorant of the daily cruelty that they are subject to, to focus on the last few seconds of their lives, making out that they are cruel when in fact they are not.  In nature there is no stunning for example, but no-one complains about that and there are no campaigns by BVA to turn jungles into giant Zoos.

There is less than 2.1% of the entire meat production being un-stunned compared to 4.8% Muslim population.  Additionally, Muslims statistically over-consume on sheep and poultry and under-consume on beef, with zero pig consumption, so any comparisons should take these into account, but they do not.  If the BVA are genuinely concerned about animal welfare, then they should address the following 10 concerns we have outlined than attempt to obtain cheap headlines.

1.  The pain caused when tagging an animal last more then 5 seconds – every large farm animal has to be tagged in the UK for the purpose of identification.

2.  Chickens bred for eggs fair worse. Soon after hatching, chicks are sexed. Whilst the females have their beaks forcibly removed before being moved on to laying, the males are thrown into macerating machines that grind them up – while still alive – for use in animal feed, Approximately 50% of all chicks hatched for this purpose are therefore brutally killed, this method of grinding live chick is approved by DEFRA and government Animal health Agency.–faib7to

3.  All pigs are mainly housed indoors throughout their lives but female pigs are repeatedly made pregnant via artificial insemination. Kept in farrowing crates the pregnant pig is unable to move forwards or backwards let alone turn around.  After giving birth the piglets are taken away at three to four weeks at which time the sow is once more impregnated.

4.  Animal Welfare Regulations allow surgical castration without the use of any pain relieving  drugs for calves up to the age of two months.

5.  Animal Welfare Regulations also allow emasculator or Burdizzo castration without the use any of pain relieving drugs for calves up to the age of two months.  This method of castration uses a clamp which crushes the blood vessels around the testes, cutting off blood supply and causing them to die and drop off.

6.  There are also numerous unreported welfare issues in the pig industry when transporting live piglets from farm to abattoir.

7.  More than 30 million egg-laying birds are kept in battery cages in the UK at any one time.  They are fed and and live under artificial light until their egg laying days are over when they are slaughtered.  Egg to slaughter without ever seeing sun light.  Wire cage sizes are just 450 sq cm – less space than an A4 sheet of paper per bird.  From 18 weeks of age she will remain for a year and will produce around 300 eggs.

8.  Animals on a farm are routinely castrated or dehorned without any pain relieving drugs.

9.  The production of  foie gras (the liver of a duck or a goose that has been specially fattened) involves the controversial force-feeding of birds with more food than they would eat.

10.  The UK Home Office publishes statistics on laboratory animal use each year.  In 2012, 4.11 million scientific procedures were carried out on animals in the UK.  These procedures involved around 4.03 million animals.

We hear much less (if anything) about the welfare issues mentioned and hear no mention of boycotting products or farms that show such cruelty.  It appears that there needs to be more of a balance in their comments and avoid unfairly criticism on the Muslim and Jewish methods of slaughter as probably, they seen as soft targets.  Any such criticisms they make against religious slaughter methods shows them to be ill-informed and insensitive to the halal and kosher consumers as well as ignorant of the huge halal market in the UK, Europe and the throughout the world.

Kind regards,

Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq
Head of Certification
Halal Authority Board

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