Government to look into labelling of non-stunned meat

By agency reporter
April 10, 2019

The Government has announced it will look into the labelling of meat so that consumers know whether or not the animal was stunned before slaughter.

In a Westminster Hall debate, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, David Rutley, confirmed that after the UK has left the European Union, the Government will look into introducing labelling so that consumers can identify the method of slaughter used.

Religious exemptions from animal welfare laws allow non-stunned slaughter in the UK. Humanists UK, which campaigns for an end to these exemptions, has welcomed the Government’s pledge.

Pre-stunning is already mandated by law but there are exemptions for religious groups to provide kosher (or shechita) and halal meat. In the debate, the Government reaffirmed that it is not considering a ban on non-stunned slaughter itself due to the concerns of some Jews and Muslims, despite similar bans in Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark.

Non-stunned slaughter involves the cutting of an animal’s throat while the animal is still fully conscious and sensitive to pain, and sees the animal die slowly of blood loss. In both Islam and Judaism, consumption of non-stunned meat is seen as a requirement by many.

While most Muslims eat stunned halal meat, stricter Muslims and Jewish people believe their religion demands that the animal must be sensitive to pain during the slaughtering process and therefore not stunned.

As part of a wider review of labelling, the Government said it would not only consider including whether the meat is from a stunned or non-stunned animal, but what method of slaughter was used. The Government is also looking into introducing ‘method of production labelling’ for meat products, which indicate the farming conditions in which the animal was raised.

Humanists UK Campaigns Officer, Rachel Taggart-Ryan, said: "Introducing labelling on meat will allow consumers to make more informed ethical choices about the meat they are buying, and it will hopefully lead to reduced consumption of non-stunned meat.

"While we would like the Government to go further and ban non-stunned meat entirely, as many other countries already have, introducing labelling on meat is a positive step forward in reducing unnecessary, inhumane suffering to animals."

* Read the debate in Hansard here

* Humanists UK


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