The RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) has finally taken a firm stand against non-stun animal slaughter, including both Islamic halal and Jewish kosher (shechita) methods.
Christopher Sherwood, the Society's chief executive said:
We're opposed to non-stun slaughter and we're calling for an end to the practice as it seriously compromises animal welfare.
The charity will campaign along with the BVA (British Veterinary Association) for a change in the law to remove religious exemptions from humane, pre-stun slaughter.
To date, the UK government has resisted such a move, for fear of upsetting Muslim voters.
Halal slaughter requires a (Muslim) slaughterman to cut the fully conscious animal's throat, windpipe and blood vessels in the neck, whilst uttering an Islamic incantation (the Tasmiyah).
The blood is then allowed to drain from the animal's body.
Pre-stunning by electric shock or bolt gun to reduce suffering is prohibited under Islamic law.
In 2018, according to the Food Standards Agency, more than 94 million animals were slaughtered without pre-stunning.
Many people oppose halal slaughter on animal welfare grounds (scientific evidence shows that it causes unnecessary suffering), or on cultural/ religious grounds (few Christians want to eat meat sacrificed to Allah).
One huge problem is that non-Muslims often eat halal meat unknowingly because shops, supermarkets, restaurants and takeaways aren't required to label it as such. (See for example our survey of restaurants and takeaways in Poole, Dorset.)
Countries including Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Iceland - also the Flanders region of Belgium - have already banned non-stun slaughter.
We believe that Britain must follow suit, and at the same time outlaw importation of halal products.
Those who complain that such policies would discriminate unfairly should note that - for Muslims who reject the vegan option (increasingly popular, see The Vegan Muslim Initiative) - Islamic law allows consumption of non-halal (haram) food in circumstances 'of necessity'.