Vets and animal welfare charity urge end to ‘non-stun’ slaughter

RSCPA BVA non-stun slaughter HCA
18/02/2019 - 09:20
The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) have joined forces to call on the UK Government to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning, causing unnecessary pain and suffering.

The call comes as the Department for Farming and Rural Affairs released figures, which the RSPCA says show that 94m animals were slaughtered without stunning in 2018. Lucy Cooper, head of PR for the animal welfate charity says this total was calculated by taking the week's figures quoted in detail in the Defra report and simply multiplying by 52. 

Her colleague Dr Marc Cooper, head of farm animals at the RSPCA, added: “We’re encouraged that these important Food Standards Agency slaughter figures have been released, following a joint letter last week from the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) urging the UK Government to release these crucial statistics.

“The report highlights that over 94 million animals were slaughtered without stunning in 2018 - that’s an average of three animals every second.

“The RSPCA is against any slaughter of farm animals without stunning as the scientific evidence, and the view from the UK Government’s own advisors, concludes  this practice can cause unnecessary suffering.”

The law in England currently allows non-stun slaughter for religious purposes, typically halal (Islam) and kosher (Judaism).

BVA president Simon Doherty said: “The UK Government has repeatedly stated it would prefer to see all animals stunned before slaughter but has taken no action to address this critical welfare issue that affects millions of animals every year.

“There is a huge groundswell of support for a ban on non-stun slaughter, and recent developments in Belgium show that decisive change is possible where public support is matched by political will.

“Michael Gove has made clear that he wants to maintain and build on the UK’s reputation as global leader on animal welfare; banning non-stun slaughter is a surefire way of showing he will deliver on this commitment.”

Stewart McKenzie, chair of the Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) commented: “Our responsibility is to provide patients with the correct nutrition and hydration to aid recovery. As caterers, it is incumbent upon us to be respectful of the patients’ personal beliefs, as well as having meal options for a range of therapeutic diets, and other specific diets such as vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher available.

“At present, we are only required to provide un-stunned slaughter meat to meet specific religious requirements whereby kosher meals are provided adhering to Kedassia standards.

“These meals are specifically requested by the patient/service user.

“While we would not object to repeal a legal exemption that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning, sometimes we have to look beyond a calling for banning particular meats and prioritise what we think is best for our patients.”

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