BVA calls for non-stun slaughter labelling

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has called for greater animal welfare labelling in response to the increase of ritually slaughtered meat ‘unknowingly’ entering the secular market.

Delegates at the BVA Animal Welfare Foundation Discussion Forum 2011 were told that meat should be clearly labelled according to whether the animal was stunned before it was slaughtered or not, so that customers can make an informed choice.

Current legislation states that all animals should be stunned prior to slaughter, but makes an exemption for ritually slaughtered meat destined for a specific religious community. The BVA said that meat from non-stunned animals being placed on the secular markets was possibly against current legislation.

The BVA said: “The concern is for the welfare of those animals that are not stunned – not about the issue of religious slaughter.”

Bill Reilly, veterinary public health specialist and former board member of the FSA, told delegates that there are no official statistics for the number of abattoirs where non-stun was practised.

He also called for full utilisation of the carcases of kosher-slaughtered animals, saying that, at present, only the forequarter is used by the community the animal was slaughtered for, because meat containing veins, lymph and the sciatic nerve are forbidden. He said that, as a result, 70% of kosher cattle meat is not used by the Jewish community and enters the secular market.

The BVA represents members of the vetinerary profession. It is involved in lobbying on a wide spectrum of animal welfare issues.