Lancashire Council votes to ban non-stunned meat in schools

By agency reporter
July 14, 2018

Lancashire County Council has voted for a second time to remove non-stunned meat products from its schools. The vote, which took place on 12 July 2018, means that 27 schools catering to 12,000 pupils will now switch from serving meat from animals that were not stunned prior to slaughter to other sources. Humanists UK, which campaigned in support of the move, has welcomed the outcome and hopes that the ban can now be smoothly and quickly implemented.

The Council had passed a resolution in October last year to remove non-stunned meat, but this was not implemented after the Lancashire Council of Mosques threatened to boycott school meals and legally challenge the Council’s decision. In February, the Council launched a consultation.

Councillor Geoff Driver commented, ‘The contract [to provide school meals] becoming due for renewal has given us the opportunity to consider the animal welfare issues surrounding the supply of halal meat, and on this basis the cabinet has voted to support the council’s previous resolution not to supply unstunned meat, other than poultry, to our schools.’

Non-stunned slaughter involves the cutting of an animal’s throat whilst the animal is still fully conscious and alert. Current regulations regarding the welfare of animals specify that all animals must be stunned so that they are insensitive to pain at the time of slaughter, reducing the animal’s suffering. However, there are loopholes in this law that allow Muslims and Jews to slaughter meat in accordance with halal and kosher traditions without stunning, for consumption only by members of their respective religions. No kosher meat is stunned, while approximately 20 per cent of halal meat is non-stunned. Up to now, Lancashire’s schools have been serving only non-stunned halal meat.

Much of this meat makes its way onto the general market, and is served to those of other religions and beliefs. This is in spite of the fact that organisations like the RSPCA, the British Veterinary Association, and the Humane Slaughter Association, as well as the Government’s own Farm Animal Welfare Committee, all recommend an end to non-stunned slaughter, due to its inhumane nature.

Humanists UK’s Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, ‘We are delighted that Lancashire County Council, after considering all of the evidence, has reaffirmed its commitment to protecting and promoting animal welfare. It is widely accepted that the practice of non-stunned slaughter causes unnecessary suffering to the animal. It is only carried out for religious reasons, and the law is quite clear that the manifestation of a religious belief can and should be limited if it harms the health and rights of others, including animals. We hope other councils will now feel empowered to follow Lancashire’s lead.’ 

* Humanists UK https://humanism.org.uk/

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