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Ban on production of non-stunned meat comes into effect in Belgium

The Dutch-speaking region of Flanders has banned non-stun meat, with French and German-speaking Wallonia set to follow later in 2019

Humanists UK has welcomed the introduction of a new law in Belgium which requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter, and hopes it will lead to a change in law in the UK.

The law, which came into effect on 1 January 2019, will ban the production of non-stunned kosher and halal meat in the Flanders region of Belgium. Wallonia, in Belgium’s south, will introduce the same ban in August, but the Brussels Regional Parliament has not yet adopted the measure. People in the Belgian regions where the production is being banned will still be able to buy non-stunned kosher and halal meat produced outside of Belgium.

Non-stunned slaughter involves the cutting of an animal’s throat whilst the animal is still fully conscious and sensitive to pain, and sees the animal die slowly of blood loss. Humanists UK campaigns for an end to non-stunned slaughter in the UK, due to its inhumane nature and the unnecessary suffering it causes to animals.  

In both Islam and Judaism, consumption of non-stunned meat is seen as a requirement for many adherents. While most Muslims eat stunned halal meat, stricter Muslims and Jewish people believe their religion demands that the animal must be sensitive to pain during the slaughtering process and therefore not stunned.

Current regulations in the UK 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, loopholes in the UK allow Muslims and Jews to slaughter meat in accordance with halal and kosher traditions without stunning, ostensibly for consumption only by members of their respective religions. No kosher meat is stunned, while approximately 20 percent of halal meat is non-stunned. This meat frequently enters the more general market.

Blanket bans on ritual slaughter are in place in Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said: ‘This ban on the production of non-stunned meat is a positive step forward in protecting animal welfare and is about ensuring that animals are more humanely treated under the law.

‘Evidence by animal rights groups show that the practice of non-stunned slaughter causes unnecessary suffering to the animal. It is only carried out for religious reasons, and the manifestation of a religious belief can and should be limited if it harms the health and rights of others, including animals. We hope to see the UK introduce bans on non-stunned slaughter as we are seeing in much of Europe.’

NOTES:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07 393344293.

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

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.

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