Transition period in Belgium to change religious slaughter
Belgium’s devolved Wallonia region, the country’s largest territory, and the Dutch-speaking Flanders region will allow halal and kosher abattoirs over two years to switch to a new slaughter technique that requires pre-kill stunning.
Religious slaughter will still be allowed, but the technique is due to change on 1 September 2019. From this date, religious slaughterhouses will have to stun animals before they are killed.
Hitherto, it had been legal to slaughter animals without stunning them, meaning the animal was conscious and sensitive to pain.
While some figures in government wanted an immediate ban on the slaughter of non-stunned animals, the European Livestock and Meat Trading Union (UECBV) told this site a “compromise” had been reached.
UECBV claims to be the collective voice of national meat trade associations across the continent and its veterinary advisor Dr Claudia Vinci said that the more than two-year transitional period was appropriate.
“[It] should allow slaughterhouses to adapt to the new technique for the ritual slaughter and the timeframe will also facilitate the adequate training of the staff,” Vinci told this site.
Until enforcement of the decision comes into effect – in just under two-and-a-half years – halal and kosher slaughterhouses that do not stun animals before slaughter will not face charges.
Earlier this week, Belgium’s Wallonia Parliament voted in favour of outlawing the slaughter of livestock without stunning, citing animal welfare concerns.
The vote comes after the Flanders region, northern Belgium, voted to change the techniques for halal and kosher slaughter in March. Their vote followed presentation of a report to the Flemish government by renowned Belgian veterinary surgeon, Piet Vanthemsche, recommending stunning before slaughter.