24th September 2009
Subway boycott threatened over 'cruel' slaughter methods
A boycott of the sandwich chain Subway is threatened by leading animal group Viva! after it emerged that nearly 80 (1) Subway stores across the UK may be selling meat from animals who have their throats cut while fully conscious as part of a religious slaughter ritual. The meat is sourced from Ireland (2). Viva! believes that Subway's policy is morally unacceptable and potentially illegal and has asked Subway for urgent change.
Not stunning animals prior to slaughter is illegal in the UK except for strictly defined reasons of religious belief for Jews (kosher meat) and Muslims (halal). However, the majority of Muslims have no objection to animals being stunned before slaughter and there is an adequate certified supply in the UK (3). Despite this, Subway has chosen to appeal to a minority Muslim market by selling only meat from animals whose throats are cut whilst fully conscious.
According to an NOP survey conducted for Viva!, 71 per cent of British people think that the ritual religious slaughter of unstunned animals should be banned. Subway's decision flies in the face of public opinion and its decision not to label meat deprives many Muslims, Christians and other religions of the ability to make a moral choice. They could be eating meat from an animal whose slaughter they find utterly reprehensible.
"Certain groups were exempt from stunning animals for very specific and personal religious reasons" says Viva! campaigner Tom Lane. "This privilege was never intended to permit a US multinational corporation to launch a mass-marketing campaign to maximise its profits. It has driven a coach and horses through the law by sourcing its meat from outside the UK and the problem will get worse as it expands its UK chain (4)".
Viva! has always opposed the throat cutting of fully?conscious animals and is supported by the Government's own advisory body on animal welfare ? FAWC (Farm Animal Welfare Council). It described the practice as "unacceptable" and recommended a ban. It said: "Such a massive injury would result in significant pain and distress." It re?iterated this view recently in its report on poultry at slaughter when it said that birds are likely to remain conscious for 20 seconds or more after their necks are cut (5).
FAWC added that they were in agreement with prevailing international scientific consensus, that slaughter without pre?stunning is seriously detrimental to animal welfare.
Tom Lane concludes: "Whilst the Government is unwilling to ban slaughter without pre?stunning ? even though their own advisory body on welfare has now twice urged them to do so ? consumers can do their bit by boycotting places that persist in selling meat from unstunned animals. Of course, slaughter is never humane, and countless animals miss the stunner in traditional slaughterhouses. If you care about the welfare of animals, the best way to protect them is to simply not eat them and go vegetarian."
For more information about Viva!'s campaign against religious slaughter without pre?stunning visit www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/ritual_slaughter/index.htm.
Notes to editors
1 78 Halal accredited Subway branches listed here: http://www.subway.co.uk/store-finder/region.aspx (for a full list contact Viva!)
2 Subway (http://www.subway.co.uk/menu/halal.aspx) claim that their Halal meat is accredited by the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, which ? according to their website ? are against the stunning of animals prior to slaughter: http://www.islaminireland.com/halal_food/halal_food_and_certification_by_ifi.html
3 In the UK, The Halal Food Authority approves of stunning of animals prior to slaughter. http://www.halalfoodauthority.co.uk/front.html
4 In an email to a Viva! supporter, a Subway representative said: "The website is currently being updated and a few of our more recently converted or open stores do not yet show up on the list. This is being rectified and within the next few days you will be able to see all our stores."
5 Report on the Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing Part 2: White Meat Animals (May 2009): http://www.fawc.org.uk/pdf/report-090528.pdf
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