Eustice: we need more time on stun law changes

The government needs more time to consider the ramifications of imposing new welfare regulations, food and farming minister George Eustice told meat processors this week.

Speaking at the British Meat Processors Association’s annual conference, Eustice defended the decision by Defra to withdraw from implementing contentious new Welfare of Animals at Time of Killing rules.

The last minute u-turn by Defra followed complaints and legal action by the meat industry, which had raised concerns over the increased stunning currents for poultry and its impact on religious slaughter.

However, Eustice said the issue was complicated and the delay was necessary: “The issues surrounding religious slaughter are contentious, it takes longer to reach a consensus, so we decided we needed a little more time to consider this.”

He repeated the government position on religious slaughter, stating that while the government would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter, it respected the rights of those who wished to carry out slaughter according to religious rules.

However, a technical spokesman for the Halal Authority Board said it was not time that was needed: "The proposed legislation is effectively stun to kill, not stun to stun and is therefore unacceptable for Halal. The study from Bristol showed only 9 chickens recovered. Until we have full recovery, muslims will not accept it. We need full trials conducted within the UK on this issue before it can move forward."

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