Animal welfare firms urge DEFRA to end non-stun slaughter

By Ashley Williams

- Last updated on GMT

UK animal welfare groups have called for an end to non-stun slaughter
UK animal welfare groups have called for an end to non-stun slaughter

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UK-based animal welfare organisations the RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association have sent an open letter to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to ban non-stun slaughtering of animals.

The letter, which is addressed to DEFRA secretary of state Michael Gove, has called on legislation to be implemented in England to prevent “unnecessary pain and suffering​” of livestock.

The organisations said the UK government should provide further public transparency on the issue by publishing the 2018 slaughter survey results, which both organisations said was originally due to be released in autumn 2018.

The RSPCA and the British Veterinary Association said they believed that meat should be labelled with the method of slaughter, such as stunned or non-stunned, to inform consumers about the products they are purchasing.

Meanwhile, they also called for a ban on exports from non-stunned animals or live animals destined for non-stun slaughter and for it only to be permitted at levels that met local religious community demand. Finally, the letter urged an immediate post-cut stun for cattle, sheep, goats and deer.

According to government data, more than 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned in 2017/2018.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said non-stun slaughter “seriously compromises​” animal welfare.

Until there is a change in the law to end non-stun slaughter, there are several measures the UK Government could introduce to reduce the suffering involved in this practice,” ​said Sherwood.

For example, by ensuring trade deals with other countries do not include non-stun meat or live animals for non-stun slaughter, and clear labelling should be adopted to enable consumers to make an informed choice about the meat they buy and how it was slaughtered​.”

Meanwhile, British Veterinary Association president Simon Doherty said the UK Government had repeatedly stated it would prefer to see all animals stunned before slaughter, but had taken no action to address the issue.

It is doubly disappointing that data that would have provided a valuable benchmark for levels of non-stun slaughter in the UK has yet to see the light of day, despite assurances throughout last year that it would soon be made public​,” said Doherty.

Michael Gove has made clear that he wants to maintain and build on the UK’s reputation as a global leader on animal welfare; banning non-stun slaughter is a sure-fire way of showing he will deliver on this commitment​.”

The letter followed a recent decision to ban the slaughter of animals without prior stunning in the Flanders region of Belgium​, which came into force at the start of the year. Belgium has joined several other European countries, including Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark, in making this decision.

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