Alarm at deal to export non-stunned meat to Saudi Arabia

By agency reporter
August 24, 2018

Humanists UK has expressed alarm at a new trade deal with Saudi Arabia to export non-stunned British lamb meat. The deal was announced by Food Minister George Eustice in February, but it has only just been confirmed that the lamb will be non-stunned. Humanists UK believes it shows a serious disregard for the welfare of animals during slaughter and is a worrying indication that the UK’s high standards in meat production are going to be endangered by new trade deals post-Brexit.

Non-stunned slaughter involves slitting the animal’s throat whilst it is still fully conscious and sensitive to pain, and allowing the animal to die slowly of blood loss. This is done outside of the normal welfare regulations for the slaughtering of animals, under exceptions made for halal and kosher meat. The RSPCA, British Veterinary Association and other animal welfare organisations, as well as Humanists UK, have campaigned for the removal of this exception on the grounds that it causes unnecessary suffering and distress to the animal.

It is unclear whether exporting non-stunned meat to a country outside of the EU is lawful as current regulations stipulate that the exception only applies to meat intended to fill the domestic demand within Muslim and Jewish communities.

It is believed that all meat exported to Saudi Arabia under this new deal will be certified by the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC), which only certifies non-stunned meat as halal. This means  there will be an increase in the number of animals subjected to non-stunned slaughter methods to meet the new export demand. The Food Standards Agency already estimates that approximately 25 per cent of sheep and goats slaughtered in the UK are already not stunned, far in excess of the proportion of Muslim consumers.

Humanists UK’s Campaigns Officer Rachel Taggart-Ryan commented, "Many organisations including the Government’s own Farm Animal Welfare Committee agree that slaughter without pre-stunning is inhumane and have called for an end to the exemptions in law that allow for it. This deal with Saudi Arabia is a worrying indication that as the UK leaves the EU animal welfare considerations will be sacrificed in the pursuit of new trade deals." 

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

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