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Humanists UK calls for an end to non-stunned meat being served in Lancashire schools

Humanists UK has responded to a consultation by Lancashire County Council on a proposal to remove meat from its schools meals that was slaughtered without being pre-stunned, causing unnecessary pain and suffering to the animal. In October 2017, Lancashire County Council voted in favour of removing non-stunned meat products from 27 of its schools catering to 12,000 pupils. Humanists UK has long campaigned for an end to the exemption from the law mandating pre-stunning for animals slaughtered to provide shechita and halal meat.

Non-stunned slaughter involves the cutting of an animal’s throat whilst the animal is still fully conscious and alert. Current regulations regarding the welfare of animals specify that all animals must be stunned so that they are insensitive to pain at the time of slaughter, reducing the animal’s suffering. However, there are loopholes in this law that allow Muslims and Jews to slaughter meat in accordance with halal and kosher traditions without stunning, for consumption only by members of their respective religions. No kosher meat is stunned, while about approximately 20 percent of halal meat is non-stunned. Up to now, Lancashire’s schools have been serving only non-stunned halal meat.

However, much of this meat makes its way onto the general market, and is served to those of other religions and beliefs. This is in spite of the fact that organisations like the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Association, and the Government’s own Farm Animal Welfare Committee all recommend an end to non-stunned slaughter, due to the inhumane nature of the slaughter.

Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘We strongly support Lancashire Council’s proposal to remove non-stunned meat products from its school meals. Many parents and pupils are unhappy that the money they pay towards school meals is being used to support these slaughtering practices.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Rachel Taggart-Ryan, Campaigns Officer at rachel@humanism.org.uk or 020 7324 3065.

Read Humanists UK’s consultation response here: https://humanism.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018-02-07-RTR-Lancashire-Council-halal-meat-consultation.pdf

Respond to Lancashire’s consultation here: http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/consultation/responses/response.asp?ID=339

We support the reduction of animal suffering resulting from human behaviour and see compassionate attitudes to animal suffering as a hallmark of a humane society. As we wish to reduce suffering, humanists are concerned about the treatment of food animals, both during their lives and when they are slaughtered. Pre-stunning is mandated by law but there are exemptions for religious groups to provide kosher (or shechita) and halal meat. We believe these exemptions should end, and we note that there is in fact widespread certification of meat as halal with pre-stunning. If the exemptions enabling religious slaughter are not brought to an end, then we think at the very least rules should be introduced requiring all such meat to be labelled clearly so that consumers can choose to avoid it.

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.

Humanists UK recently changed its name from the British Humanist Association: https://humanism.org.uk/2017/05/22/bha-becomes-humanists-uk/

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