Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Government failure to ban religious slaughter condemned

Campaign group accuses Government of failing animals

Release date: 
Wednesday, March 9, 2005

The Government has just announced that it will not now or in the future ban ritual, religious slaughter for the Jewish and Muslim faiths, where animals have their throats cut while they are fully conscious. Viva!, the UK's largest vegetarian organization has condemned the decision as barbaric and being in defiance of public opinion. A June 2003 report by Government advisory body, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, said of throat cutting without stunning: "' such a massive injury would result in very significant pain and distress'. It called on the Government to ban the practice with these words: "Council considers that slaughter without prestunning is unacceptable and that the Government should repeal the current exemption' (exemption to the laws on humane slaughter). It has taken Defra this long to produce its final response, which ignores entirely FAWC's recommendation. Viva! has led the campaign against ritual religious slaughter and commissioned a public opinion poll which showed that over 70 per cent of British people want to see an end to the practice*. It tabled a Parliamentary Early Day Motion (No 104) which has been signed by 77 MPs and has filmed the failings of Jewish and Muslim slaughter practices. A referenced report on religious slaughter has been sent to all MPs. All food animals in Britain are killed by having their throats cut but the law requires that they are first rendered unconscious. However, animals killed for Muslim halal and Jewish kosher meats can be slaughtered by throat cutting without prestunning. It can take a cow 60 seconds to lose consciousness " a calf minutes. Viva!'s director, Juliet Gellatley, says "Some nine million animals a year die by these cruel and painful methods, which have been condemned by Viva!, FAWC and the RSPCA. Evidence that cattle and calves can remain conscious after throat cutting for a considerable period of times is now beyond doubt. The minimum we might have expected was a requirement that animals are stunned immediately after being cut but even this has been rejected. There has, however, been a welcome change in attitudes amongst many Muslims and between 80 and 90 per cent of animals killed for halal meat are now stunned. I can't believe that anyone's god wants animals to suffer in this way for a food that we don't even need.' Note to Editors *The survey was carried out by NOP World between September 12-14, 2003, amongst 1000 adults. Copies of Viva!'s religious slaughter video are available as is its extensive referenced report, Going for the Kill, which can also be viewed online: http://www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/ritual_slaughter/Goingforthekill.htm For further information contact Tony Wardle/Juliet Gellatley on 0117 944 1000. [ends]