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Labour backs compulsory labelling of non-stunned halal and kosher meat

The Labour Party has proposed mandatory labelling of meat to indicate if the animal was stunned or not during the slaughter process, as part of a new policy on animal welfare launched today. Pre-stunning is already mandated by law but there are exemptions for religious groups to provide kosher (or shechita) and halal meat. Humanists UK, which supports an end to this exemption, has welcomed Labour’s move as a step in the right direction – albeit one that doesn’t go far enough.

Figures released by the Food Standards Agency have revealed a sharp increase in the number of animals being slaughtered in the halal tradition without being pre-stunned. Between April and June 2017 24.4% of sheep and goats were slaughtered in this way, up from 15% in 2013. Similarly, the number of poultry killed without stunning rose from 3% to 18.5% in the same period. Humanists UK is concerned that this dramatic rise is evidence that non-stunned halal meat is being sold, arguably illegally, on the general market to non-Muslim consumers. While most halal meat is pre-stunned, all kosher meat comes from animals that were not pre-stunned.

Humanists UK Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘Humanists UK, along with groups such as the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Association, and the Humane Slaughter Association, opposes the religious slaughter of animals without pre-stunning. This is because the evidence shows that an animal’s suffering is reduced if it has been stunned. Labour’s commitment to bringing in a clear labelling system so that consumers can make an informed choice is a welcome step in the right direction, but we’ll be pushing for it to go further and ban non-stunned meat entirely, as many other countries already have.’

Notes

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

Read more on our campaigns on animal welfare: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/public-ethical-issues/animal-welfare/

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.

About Humanists UK

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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