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Leading animal welfare charities call for an end to non-stun slaughter

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the British Veterinary Association (BVA) have jointly called for an end to the exception granted to certain religious groups that allows animals to be killed without pre-stunning.

Humanists UK, which campaigns for an end to non-stunned slaughter in the UK due to its inhumane nature and the unnecessary suffering it causes to animals, has welcomed the charities’ push to end ritual slaughter.

In a joint letter to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove, both organisations call upon the ‘UK Government to retract the derogation that permits the unnecessary suffering of animals at the time of killing, from Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations for England and in turn require all animals to be effectively stunned prior to slaughter.’

If the exceptions are not repealed, the RSPCA and BVA have made recommendations including a requirement for immediate post-cut stunning, ending the export of non-stunned meat, and better regulation to ensure that such meat products do not enter the general market. They also call for a labelling system which clearly identifies meat that has been slaughtered without pre-stunning.

Non-stunned slaughter involves the cutting of an animal’s throat whilst the animal is still fully conscious and sensitive to pain, and sees the animal die slowly of blood loss. In both Islam and Judaism, consumption of non-stunned meat is seen as a requirement by many adherents. While most Muslims eat stunned halal meat, stricter Muslims and Jewish people believe their religion demands that the animal must be sensitive to pain during the slaughtering process and therefore not stunned.

Blanket bans on non-stun slaughter are in place in Flanders, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said: ‘Humanists UK is supportive of the recommendations that the RSPCA and BVA have put forward to the UK Government. Evidence by animal rights groups shows that the practice of non-stunned slaughter causes unnecessary suffering to the animal.

‘It is only carried out for religious reasons, and the manifestation of a religious belief can and should be limited if it harms the health and rights of others, including animals. With the UK’s departure from the EU and a resulting large-scale rethinking of our agricultural policy, now is the time for the UK Government to address this issue.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078.

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At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and campaigning work, we’re committed to creating a fair and equal society for all.

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