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Byline: RSPCA HEAD OF AFFAIRS, David Bowles

A BIG debate has taken place in Britain this week over halal and kosher meat being sold by restaurants and supermarkets without labelling - and the fact that at a number of UK abattoirs some animals slaughtered under these systems are not being stunned beforehand.

At present, the only legal exemptions to stunning during slaughter are for kosher and halal methods.

However many Muslim leaders now accept the principle that animals may be pre-stunned, with the result that almost 90% of animals killed in the UK for halal meat are unconscious when the cut to the throat is made.

The RSPCA believes it is important to differentiate between "religious" and "non-stun" slaughter. Our concern does not relate to the expression of religious belief but to the practice of CALL: Mr killing by throat-cutting without pre-stunning. The RSPCA's policies are based on sound science not sentiment. Non-stun slaughter can cause considerable suffering and the organisation believes this practice should be banned.

The traditional slaughter practices of both Jews and Muslims almost certainly originated out of a respect for animal welfare as well as food hygiene.

The RSPCA's Bowles concern lies with slaughter that does not stun, as the science clearly shows this can cause unnecessary pain and suffering.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council reported that when calves' throats are cut without pre-stunning they can remain conscious for up to two minutes as they bleed to death. The report concluded "during this time they may be experiencing severe pain and distress".

As an organisation that has fought for the welfare of farm animals since its inception 190 years ago, the RSPCA is urging the public to sign the Government petition for an end to slaughter without pre-stunning.

In the meantime, we believe meat produced from animals stunned or not stunned before slaughter should be clearly labelled to allow consumer choice, and will continue to press for changes in the law that would improve the welfare of all farm animals at the time of slaughter.
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 11, 2014
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