BVA reiterates position on non-stun slaughter
Published:  07 March, 2014

The British Veterinary Association’s (BVA’s), president-elect John Blackwell would like ministers to consider following Denmark’s example and ban non-stun slaughter, it has been reported.

The new law came into force in Denmark last month, but has been criticised by several religious groups, including Danish Halal and the Jewish Society of Denmark who claim it violates religious freedom.

According to The Times, Blackwell said the religious practice of slaughtering animals without the use of stunning caused unnecessary suffering for the animal.

In response, the BVA said it had been campaigning for many years for all animals to be stunned before slaughter, “because slaughter without stunning unnecessarily compromises animal welfare”.

It said its position was supported by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA), and the RSPCA.

Among its beliefs is that: “Food derived from animals slaughtered without stunning under the legal exemption should be destined for consumption by the specific religious communities, according to whose beliefs the animals have been slaughtered. The size of these specific markets should determine the amount of non-stunned meat produced. Slaughterhouse operators must be able to demonstrate that the conditions for exemption from stunning are met.”

In his speech at the BVA annual dinner last month, president Robin Hargreaves said: “Sometimes being the trusted voice on animal welfare means we have to deliver difficult messages, perhaps most notably on welfare at slaughter and the welfare implications of non-stun slaughter.

“It is the single issue that attracts the most comment and concern among our members. It is also the issue on which we have a huge amount of political support, but on which the government feels its hands are tied.”

He said the BVA wanted to see post-cut stunning to reduce the individual harm. “And we want to see a system of labelling that would reduce the likelihood of products entering the mainstream market, which in turn would reduce the total number of animals affected,” he added.