Politicians want to persuade Muslims that slaughter techniques in British abattoirs can be consistent with their religious beliefs.
Halal meat requires animals to be alive when their throats are cut and to die from the loss of blood. Some Muslims oppose stunning because it could kill the creatures outright.
The growing ethical debate about religious slaughter has spurred the all-party parliamentary group on beef and lamb to hold an inquiry.
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Most halal meat in Britain comes from stunned animals, but some Muslims refuse to accept the practice, resulting in hundreds of thousands of animals a week having their throats cut while conscious.
“One of the methods that can be used to demonstrate that the stun does not kill the animals is the ability to demonstrate the animal’s recovery post-stunning. Demonstration of recoverability is not currently permitted within the UK,” the all-party group states in a report published today.
The group recommends “that the ability to demonstrate recoverability in UK abattoirs should be considered as a means to reassure customers that head-only stunning does not in itself kill the animal”.
New Zealand allows demonstrations to show that sheep can recover from stunning. The English beef and lamb industry body, Eblex, has done similar tests on sheep in Spain because of rules limiting animal testing in England. The sample used was too small to convince some British Muslims, however.
Phil Hadley of Eblex told The Times: “We need to demonstrate recoverability. However, in doing that piece of work it will compromise the welfare of those animals that are stunned and allowed to recover. Is the welfare compromise [of a hundred head of sheep] worth accepting to then mean that a million sheep are stunned? It’s a sacrifice for the greater good, I guess. It’s a tricky ethical dilemma.”
Robin Hargreaves, the president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: “Such research, if it led to a greater number of animals receiving a demonstrably recoverable stun, might reduce the total amount of non-stun slaughter, an outcome in line with BVA’s aim to ultimately see all animals stunned before slaughter. However, any such research must not of itself produce a welfare cost out of proportion to the potential benefit, and BVA does not underestimate the difficulty of carrying out such research.”
The all-party group has also demanded research to find a method of stunning cattle that would be acceptable to halal consumers.
Cattle in British abattoirs are usually stunned with a captive bolt gun to the head, but some Muslims fear this can kill rather than just stun the animal.
Electrical stunning to the head is used in New Zealand, but the process involves paralysing the animals, which is currently forbidden in the EU.
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Islam is repulsive and barbaric! I find it more obnoxious with each passing day.