72% want non-stun meat labelling, EU survey reveals

Meat sold in supermarkets, shops and other food outlets in the UK should be clearly labelled if non-stun slaughter methods are used, say vets.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said consumers should be told if their meat has come from animals that were not stunned before they were killed.

The vets’ group is concerned that meat from non-stun slaughter is entering the market unlabelled because there is no requirement to label meat and meat products with the method of slaughter.

See also: Fresh calls for clearer halal meat labelling

The BVA renewed its call for clearer labelling after a survey of 13,5000 meat eaters across 27 EU member states found 72% want information of stunning of animals when buying meat.

The survey was commissioned by the European Commission to assess the public’s views after plans to include labelling of non-stun slaughter products were withdrawn by the European Parliament.

BVA president John Blackwell said the report showed a clear majority of consumers were “interested in receiving information about the stunning of animals”.

He added: “The long-awaited release of this report gives renewed vigour to the BVA’s campaign for better consumer information on animal welfare at slaughter and the need for meat from non-stun slaughter to be clearly labelled.” 

Defra, which has been accused of dodging the issue, said it would review the options for the UK this summer.

“We want people to have the information they need to make informed choices about the food they buy,” said a Defra spokesman.

Meanwhile, Defra said it had no plans to ban halal and kosher slaughter on animal welfare grounds in the UK. This is despite a BVA survey to end non-stun slaughter gathering more than 100,000 signatures.

The RSPCA said non-stun slaughter caused suffering to millions of farm animals in the UK.

RSPCA head of public affairs David Bowles said: “We recognise that religious belief and practices should be respected but we also believe that animals should be slaughtered in the most humane way possible.

“Non-stun slaughter can result in the animals experiencing very significant pain and distress. That is why we feel more needs to be done to end this suffering.”