Recent revelations in the press have revealed that Britain’s major supermarkets and restaurant chains are selling halal meat without labelling it as such. Reports suggest that as much as 70% of New Zealand lamb sold in the UK is from halal abattoirs.
Animal rights and Muslim and Jewish groups have called for better labelling, to ensure that halal and kosher meat are identified as such, but David Cameron has ruled out labelling meat with its method of slaughter.
However, the emphasis on religion is somewhat missing the point, since the bigger issue here, and the reason for the public outcry, is the method of slaughter itself.
During some halal and Shechita (kosher) slaughter, animals are not stunned before their throats are slit; they are still conscious. This means a slow and agonising death. The Farm Animal Welfare Council, the Humane Slaughter Association and the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe all call the technique “cruel”.
In this paper, the case is argued to ban all non-stun slaughter in UK abattoirs.