Religious non-stun slaughter of animals
The National Secular Society has long campaigned for an end to the exemption that allows religious groups to slaughter animals without pre-stunning.
Animal welfare legislation requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter in order to minimise suffering. The only exemption is for religious communities to meet Jewish and Muslim religious requirements.
Research shows that it is more humane to stun an animal prior to slaughter than not to do so. The slaughter of animals without pre-stunning is permitted in the UK despite a recommendation by the Government's own advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), that the practice should be banned. The FAWC have concluded that animals slaughtered without pre-stunning are likely to experience "very significant pain and distress" before they become unconscious.
Likewise, the EU's Scientific Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW) have stated that: "Due to the serious animal welfare concerns associated with slaughter without stunning, pre-cut stunning should always be performed."
The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe have stated: "FVE is of the opinion that the practice of slaughtering animals without prior stunning is unacceptable under any circumstances".
Whilst we support the right to religious freedom, this is not an absolute right, and we do not think that exemptions should be made on religious grounds to animal welfare regulations which apply without exception to everyone else.
Meat from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning is routinely being sold on the general market to unsuspecting members of the public.
For as long as exemptions are granted, we argue that meat from religious slaughter without pre-stunning should be appropriately labelled, enabling consumers to make an informed choice about the food they purchase.
The current absence of labelling of such meat deprives consumers of information key to their purchase and consequently also serves to fuel the demand for meat from slaughter without stunning.
- Ritual Slaughter Of Animals Briefing (PDF, 240 Kb)
Sign the petition to end non-stun slaughter
The NSS is backing a petition by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to end non-stun slaughter of animals to improve animal welfare.
Contact your MP
Please ask them to support any proposals that ensure that meat from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning, is clearly labelled.
Please send any replies you receive to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thu, 11 May 2017 15:56
A committee of the Walloon Parliament has voted to ban the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning, a move welcomed by secularists and animal rights campaigners.
Tue, 09 Jun 2015 08:45
A survey by the European Commission has found widespread confusion over religious slaughter but clear support for labelling to indicate whether meat is from a pre-stunned animal.
Tue, 24 Feb 2015 13:38
MPs have debated ending non-stun slaughter, after a petition to end the religious exemption to animal welfare laws was signed by over 115,000 people.
Fri, 30 Jan 2015 14:03
A petition calling on the Government to end the religious exemption for non-stun slaughter has passed 100,000 signatures and will be considered for a debate in Parliament.
Wed, 10 Dec 2014 16:36
The Polish Constitutional Tribunal has overturned a ban on the religious (non-stun) slaughter of animals.