Summary: In the UK, up to 99 million animals are unnecessarily slaughtered without being stunned beforehand because the meat from these animals is not being consumed by Muslims or Jews. There is an oversupply of halal and kosher meat in the UK and the oversupplied food is being exported.
Jews and Muslims insist on their meat being non-stunned as per their culture and traditions. The problem is that in the UK up to 99 million animals are killed without being stung beforehand but their meat is not eaten by people of these cultures and traditions. The animals are exported to outside markets. And therefore, putting these animals through this pain is entirely unnecessary. Arguably, it is unnecessary in any case but doubly so if halal meat is not being eaten by people with these traditions.
News media reports that the “total oversupply of non-stunned meat could range between 32% and 278%. This represents between 34 and 99 million animal slaughtered with outstanding every year unnecessarily.”
The UK Food Standards Agency found that, in 2018, 25% of sheep were subjected to non-stun killing. A compounding problem is that some labelling does not tell consumers whether the animal was stunned before slaughter or not. Halal and kosher meats are not always labelled. This means that non-religious people can sometimes support the non-stunning of animals before slaughter, unwittingly.
Veterinarians, in general, have campaigned for all animals to be stunned before slaughter in the UK’s abattoirs. They argue that it is cruel. Religious leaders say that when carried out properly animals don’t feel pain even when they’re not stunned. Their throats are slit with a very sharp knife. But they are totally conscious when this happens.
A report by the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation calculated that the total meat supply from religiously approved slaughter methods is up to 4 times greater than the demand for this meet from Muslim and Jewish people in the UK.
Other countries have a total ban on the non-stunning of animals before slaughter. These countries include: Denmark, The Netherlands, Sweden, Malta, Switzerland, Slovenia, Estonia, Norway and Cyprus.
Ironically, they state that New Zealand exports meat to Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia and Indonesia despite the existence of a non-stun ban in the country. This implies that Muslims are prepared to eat non-halal meat.
The UK government had previously said that they would tackle the problem but they appear to be dilatory in their actions. It would be nice if Carrie Johnson and her friend Lord Goldsmith stepped in to do a bit of pushing as she has done in the past on other animal welfare issues. Earlier in the year Lord Goldsmith had said that the government was taking steps to cut down on the number of animals killed before being stunned.
A member of Parliament and a patron of the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation, Sir Roger Gale, said that he hoped the UK would emulate Germany and limit non-stun slaughter to meet demand from UK religious communities. Like others, he wants to end the oversupply.
He said: “We should certainly not be producing non-stun meat for export and must not let the UK fall behind best international practice in this area.”