Petition Ban non-stun slaughter. Animal welfare must take priority over faith tradition.

Non-stun slaughter is cruel. Many consumers do not want to eat meat killed by non-stun slaughter. On leaving the EU, specific UK legislation must replace the EU slaughter directive, explicitly precluding the religious exemption from pre-stunning requirement. Stun to kill must be mandatory.

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 September 2019

The Government would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter, but respects the rights of Jews and Muslims to eat meat prepared in accordance with their beliefs.

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The European Council Regulation 1099/2009, on the protection of animals at the time of killing, sets out the main requirements for slaughter including a requirement that all animals are stunned by a permitted method before slaughter. The EU Regulation includes a derogation from stunning for religious slaughter and also allows individual Member States to impose stricter national rules for religious slaughter.

In England, The Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015 (WATOK) enforce the EU requirements and contain stricter national rules that apply when animals are slaughtered by either the Jewish or Muslim method.

National regulations on religious slaughter have a long history. Religious slaughter was first debated in Parliament in 1875. The Slaughter of Animals Act 1933 introduced a legal requirement for stunning of animals prior to slaughter, and contained an exemption where animals were slaughtered for specific religious communities. Over the years, the rules governing religious slaughter have developed to provide additional protection for animals slaughtered in accordance with religious rites and have maintained the long standing exception for Jews and Muslims to eat meat prepared in accordance with their religious beliefs.

Under the Withdrawal Act 2018 EU legislation on welfare at slaughter will become domestic legislation alongside WATOK once we leave the EU.

Animal welfare requirements are monitored and enforced by Official Veterinarians of the Food Standards Agency to ensure that animals are spared unnecessary pain, suffering or distress during the slaughter process.

The Government delivered its manifesto commitment last year by introducing regulations requiring the mandatory use of CCTV in all slaughterhouses in England. This will assist Official Veterinarians of the Food Standards Agency to maintain and improve standards of animal welfare in slaughterhouses.

The Government is aware that there is public concern about meat from animals being slaughtered in accordance with religious beliefs being sold to consumers who do not require their meat to be prepared in this way and that there are calls for such meat to be labelled.

The Government is actively engaging with religious communities and other stakeholders on issues around religious slaughter.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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