The British Humanist Association (BHA) has renewed its calls for labelling of meat from animals which have not been not pre-stunned, following a European Commission (EC) survey which found overwhelming consumer demand for clearer meat labelling. 72% of consumers surveyed indicated their interest in ‘receiving information on the stunning of animals at slaughter when they buy meat’. The BHA gave oral evidence to the Commission’s scoping exercise which led to the report in which the survey is contained.
In the UK, animal welfare laws require food animals to be pre-stunned before slaughter, but exemptions exist to this for certain religious communities. As a result, all meat produced by the shechita (kosher) method and around 20% of halal is not pre-stunned. The EC’s report found that consumers had very limited understanding of these processes, and were unable to make clear ethical decisions about which meat they purchased.
A potential move towards meat labelling is supported by the Halal Food Authority, the British Veterinary Association, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Farm Animal Welfare Council, but has been strenuously opposed by some Muslim and Jewish pressure groups.
BHA Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns Pavan Dhaliwal commented, ‘The evidence is clear and uncontroversial: pre-stunning significantly reduces the distress experienced by animals used for meat production. This latest European Commission report shows that there is both widespread demand and clear need for labelling of meat. This is a very modest measure, and while we ultimately hope that slaughter without stunning is brought to an end, in the meantime we hope our politicians will look at the evidence and choose to empower consumers to make informed decisions about which foods they buy.’
For further comment or information, contact Pavan Dhaliwal at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 079 3585.
In 2014, the BHA supported a Government petition from the British Veterinary Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals calling for an end to religious exemptions to animal welfare laws, and, in the meantime, clearer labelling of meat by slaughter method. The petition received enough signatures to be discussed in Parliament, but ministers dismissed animal welfare concerns in favour of preserving the exemptions: https://humanism.org.uk/2014/05/01/new-epetition-urges-defra-end-slaughter-without-stunning-animals/
Read more about the BHA’s approach to animal welfare: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/animal-welfare/
The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.