UK: Scottish Government admit Halal meat is illegal

As part of their consultation on upcoming changes in animal slaughter legislation the Scottish Government have admitted that the placing of non-stunned meat slaughtered in the UK into the general food chain has been illegal since 1995.

For some time Scotland for Animals have campaigned to have slaughter without stunning banned in the UK and for the clear labelling of all such meat products.

Scientific studies have shown that animals suffer significantly higher levels of pain and stress if not stunned before killing.

The Scottish Government have claimed that the law has not been enforced due to “traceability issues”. This has been called into question by minutes recorded during meetings between Civil Servants and farming leaders who stated that with regard to the legislation it was “relatively easy to trace meat going to retailers” and that there was a problem with caterers and retailers, including those who supply hospitals and schools, providing this meat without consumers’ knowledge.

Many retailers including the sandwich chain Subway sell meat from animals killed without stunning.

Scotland for Animals spokesman John Patrick: “This confirms what Scotland for Animals have been telling authorities for years, that UK wide the law has and is being broken on a massive scale with the full knowledge of Government.”

“If animals are killed at the very least they should be insensible to pain while being slaughtered. There is no justification for an opt-out on this. Many Muslims and Jews support stunning for welfare reasons, it’s an insult to them for the Government to frame this as a human rights issue”.

“The public are being sold en masse meat sourced in the UK employing deliberately cruel methods. By turning a blind eye and not enforcing legislation authorities are betraying people and the animals involved alike.”

Scottish Govt.: “Targeting of non stunned meat to supply – WASK currently restricts religious slaughter to slaughter by the Jewish method for the food of Jews and by the Muslim method for the food of Muslims. This targeting of supply has not previously been enforced due to practical issues regarding traceability.” Consultation. “Implementation in Scotland of EU Regulation 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time,of killing”

The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 state that all animals slaughtered in the UK should be fully stunned to the point of insensibility before slaughter and until death. A dispensation exists in WASK for animals slaughtered for Halal and Kosher meat which states that these animals are not required to be stunned. Section 12.2 of the legislation states that meat from animals not stunned must only be sold/ provided to Muslims/ Jews.

Halal meat accounts for over 25% of the entire UK meat market. (Halal Food Authority)

Glasgow Central Mosque leaders have confirmed that although they oppose pre-slaughter stunning it is permitted. (Imam Habib-ur-Rahman Rauf)

Around 20% of Halal meat produced in the UK is from animals slaughtered with no form of stunning. (Food Standards Agency. June 2012). The remainder is sourced from animals are subjected to a method called “Stun-to-stun” which uses an amperage below that recommended in guidelines for an effective stun.

Scotland for Animals, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee and RSPCA have all expressed concerns regarding the effectiveness of this technique. The Halal Food Authority, who insist on this method for accreditation of suppliers have admitted that “Stun-to-stun” ensures that animals are “conscious” when killed. Halal Food Authority Slaughter Procedure

No animals slaughtered for Kosher meat in UK receive any form of stun. (House of Commons report 2012).

It is estimated that around 70% of non-stunned Kosher meat provided/ sold in the UK is not consumed by Jews. (EU Dialrel project).

The most recent study on the negative welfare implications of not stunning animals can be found here: New Zealand Veterinary Journal, vol 57, p 77