The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has reinforced its opposition to slaughter without pre-stunning on welfare grounds, amid calls for meat to be labelled as stunned or non-stunned.
Speaking at the 2011 BVA Animal Welfare Foundation discussion forum, former president Bill Reilly said the association opposes slaughter methods without stunning because it causes the animal distress and pain.
“There are no official stats in the UK as to how many animals are slaughtered without pre-stunning but our position is clear – all animals should be stunned before slaughter and if that’s not possible the meat should be labelled as not stunned to allow the consumer to have the choice,” said Mr Reilly.
“By ensuring that all meat from animals that are not stunned only enters the specific communities that it is targeted at, we can make a significant difference.”
UK abattoirs follow the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 which allow animals to be slaughtered without stunning for Jewish (Shechita) and Muslim (Halal) slaughter.
Mr Reilly said an estimated 2.1 million animals are killed annually using Shechita slaughter methods, of which none are pre-stunned, and an estimated 70% of those cattle slaughtered enter the non-Jewish market.
He said the situation is less clear in the Halal market because stunning is sometimes allowed so long as the animal is not killed by the stunning process.
“In 2001, Halal meat had an 11% share of the market but only 3% of the population – now 25% of the UK market is Halal but we don’t know if that animal was stunned or otherwise.”
Last month, the EU Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee voted in favour of new labelling regulations requiring meat to be labelled as stunned or non-stunned. The new measures will be put forward for full approval by the parliament in July.
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