Bovis ISSN 2398-2993

Slaughter: religious practices in the UK

Contributor(s): Alessandro Seguino , Ed van Klink

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Introduction

  • Council Regulation (EC) n. 1099/2099 on the Protection of Animals at the Time Of Killing (PATOK), defines slaughtering as “the killing of animals intended for human consumption”.
  • Slaughter can only be carried out if:
    • “Animals are previously stunned, in such a way to induce an immediate loss of consciousness and sensibility without pain, that lasts until death.”
  • However, PATOK allows for the slaughtering of animals by religious rites that consists of a series of acts (the method) as prescribed by a religion.
  • Jewish and Islamic religions require for animals to not be stunned before being slaughtered:
    • They prescribe that this should be done in such a way that it does not cause any avoidable pain to the animals and emphasise the importance of humane treatment of animals at the time of slaughter.
  • Slaughter of animals by religious rites dates back for thousands of years and according to doctrine, derives from a divine direct that is an integral part of these faiths.
  • In other words, asking someone in these faiths to change their slaughter method is like asking them to be a "bad" Jew or a "bad" Muslim, as the method is synonymous with good religious practice.
  • Religious slaughter is also an integral part of some cultural traditions that contribute to fostering long-standing social links between generations.
  • Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union indicates that it is right to to respect the freedom of individuals to practice their religious beliefs.
  • A derogation from stunning was granted by PATOK in cases of religious slaughter of animals. This slaughter must take place in approved slaughterhouses and be carried out by a Jew or a Muslim slaughterman who holds a certificate of competence (issued by the Food Standards Agency).
  • In the UK, the derogation on religious slaughter of animals was already granted with The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations (WASK) 1995 that implemented the EU Directive 93/119/EC on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter or killing.
  • Although the WASK regulations have been almost completely revoked by PATOK, the provisions on religious slaughter (Schedule 12) are still in force today.
  • PATOK derogation has been also transposed and endorsed into the UK national law by The Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) Regulations.

Religious method claims

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Animal welfare implications

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Blood entering the respiratory tract

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Religious slaughter and food hygiene implications

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Final remarks

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Gregory N G, Von Wenzlawowicz M & Von Holleben K (2009) Blood in the respiratory tract during slaughter with and without stunning in cattle. Meat Science 82 (1) 13–16 PubMed.
  • Anil M H, Yesildere T, Aksu H, Matur E, McKinstry J L & Weaver H R et al (2006) Comparison of Halal slaughter with captive bolt stunning and neck cutting in cattle: exsanguination and quality parameters. Animal Welfare 15, 325-330.
  • Gregory N G, Shaw F D, Whitford J C & Patterson-Kane J C (2006) Prevalence of ballooning of the severed carotid arteries at slaughter in cattle, calves and sheep. Meat Science 74 (4), 655–657 PubMed.
  • Anil M H, Yesildere T, Aksu H, Matur E, McKinstry J L & Erdogan O et al (2004) Comparison of religious slaughter of sheep with methods that include pre-slaughter stunning, and the lack of differences in exsanguinations, packed cell volume and meat quality parameters. Animal Welfare 13,  387-392 VetMedResource.
  • Blackman N L, Cheetham K & Blackmore D K (1986) Differences in blood supply to the cerebral cortex between sheep and calves during slaughter. Research in Veterinary Science 40, 252-254 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • The answer to Parliamentary Question 192080. Available at: www.publications.parliament.uk.
  • Blokhuis H J, Roth B, Holst S, Kestin S, Raj M & Terlouw C et al (2004) “Welfare aspects of animal stunning and killing methods”. European Food Safety Authority – AHAW 04-027. Scientific Report of the Scientific Panel for Animal Health and Welfare on a request from the Commission related to welfare aspects of animal stunning and killing methods. (Question No. EFSA-Q-2003-093, pp 24).


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