Parliamentary group publishes report on stun/non-stun slaughter

An all party parliamentary group (APPG) for beef and lamb has published a report which calls for more research into the religious slaughter of animals

Following calls from the APPG on beef and lamb, for more research into halal labelling, its chairman, MP Nick Parish, has published the report into religious slaughter.

The report, Meat Slaughtered in Accordance with Religious Rites, is designed to help “MPs, industry, government officials and NGOs take a more balanced and evidence-based approach to policy-making”, according to a government statement.

The report is based on evidence from industry experts; Shechita UK; the Halal Food Authority; veterinary professionals; as well as the farming minister George Eustice and the European Commission.

The report concluded with nine recommendations:

1.    Research to be reviewed and new research to be undertaken, where necessary, to determine the effect of stunning on the residual blood content left in meat in comparison to that produced from slaughter without stunning.
2.    The demonstration of recoverability in abattoirs as a means to reassure customers the animal is not killed by stunning and therefore is halal-compliant.
3.    That the use of electro-immobilisation, a practice not currently permitted in the UK, be re-examined to determine scientifically if it is required, in order to take into account the associated dangers to operator safety in relation to carcase kicking.
4.    More research into the shechita method of slaughter and the likelihood and duration of pain felt when the cut is made.
5.    To help inform the debate on mis-stunning and mis-slaughtering, the group believes that statistics on the incidence of mis-slaughtering should be made available.
6.    That labelling should be carried out on a stun versus non-stun basis, and that an impact assessment on the burden to the industry should be undertaken in relation to mandatory labelling.
7.    Greater research is needed into the measurement of pain in animals at the time of slaughter and in demonstrating the recoverability of certain stunning methods to reassure religious communities that they are compatible with their religion.
8.    Labelling should help consumers make informed decisions when buying meat, should be carried out on a stun versus non-stun basis, and that an impact assessment on the burden to the industry should be undertaken in relation to mandatory labelling.
9.    That a consumer attitudes survey towards meat labelling should be conducted, to see if the public would like to see meat labelled in accordance with stunning or non-stunning, and additional information such as the type of stun that was used and if any religious requirements are needed to be met in producing the meat.
 
Acknowledging the issue as one of contention, Parish said: “When the group decided to conduct an inquiry into the welfare of animals slaughtered in accordance with religious rites, I knew we were entering into an area of public discourse that has been highly polarised, is often poorly understood and on which discussions in the media have often produced more heat than light. I hope our offering provides more of the latter.

“There are no easy solutions to what is – legally, scientifically and culturally – a very complicated set of circumstances, but given the legitimate concerns of the public, animal welfare organisations and religious communities, it is a debate worth having in a calm and transparent way.”

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