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MP proposes new measure to reduce non-stunned slaughter of animals

Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset and animal welfare campaigner, has announced he will lay an amendment to the Animal Welfare (Kept Animals) Bill to reduce the number of animals slaughtered without stunning. Humanists UK, which campaigns to repeal religious exemptions to animal welfare legislation which allow animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning, has welcomed this announcement. If successful, it would see the number of animals slaughtered in this way reduced and more closely linked to the actual demand for non-stunned halal and kosher meat products.

This Bill, which has passed first reading in the House of Commons, will create a range of animal welfare regulations. This includes introducing licences for the owning of primates and banning the export of livestock for slaughter. Mr Loder’s proposed amendment would create a legal duty to prove that there was a religious need for an animal to be slaughtered without pre-stunning. Last month, the Government launched a consultation on introducing a labelling system for meat products that would state whether stunning took place.

Current animal welfare laws mandate that all animals must be stunned so that they are insensible to pain before the lethal cut is made. But there are exceptions to this for religious slaughter, which are used in the preparation of halal and kosher meat. Around 58% of animals undergoing halal slaughter are actually stunned, as certain stun methods are accepted by many halal certification bodies. All kosher meat is unstunned. Much unstunned halal and kosher meat enters the general market for consumption by people other than Muslims and Jews. It is estimated that 90.8 million meat chickens (9.7 percent of total slaughtered), 3 .1 million sheep (25 percent of total slaughtered), 22 thousand cattle (1.1 percent of total slaughtered) were slaughtered without pre-stunning in 2018 across England and Wales.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘We are pleased that Chris Loder MP is addressing this issue. His position is in line with that of every major animal welfare and veterinary organisation in the UK, which oppose non-stunned slaughter. They have arrived at this position after careful consideration of the scientific evidence, which shows that stunning significantly reduces the distress and suffering caused to the animal by the slaughtering process.

‘The measure he is introducing would address the problem that more animals are currently slaughtered in this way than are required by the needs of the Muslim and Jewish communities. Much of this meat enters the general market where consumers are unaware of its providence or the slaughtering method. Therefore this measure would not impact upon religious practices but would ensure that fewer animals are slaughtered whilst still fully sensitive to pain.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read more about this announcement. 

Read the Animal Welfare Bill.

Read more about our work on animal welfare.

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