Religious slaughter - Commons Library Standard Note

Published 11 June 2012 | Standard notes SN01314

Amended 29 April 2013

Authors: Christopher Barclay

Topic: Agriculture, Animal welfare, Food, Religion and faith communities

• This note describes the methods of slaughter used by the Jewish and Muslim religions. EU law, like UK law before it, requires farm animals to be stunned before slaughter, but there is an exception for religious slaughter.

• The Jewish method of slaughter, Shechita, requires animals not to be stunned before slaughter. Islamic food rules, for Halal meat, can be satisfied with animals stunned before slaughter if animals do not die as a result of the stun, but there is no definitive consensus and slaughter without pre-stunning does also take place.

• Much of the meat on an animal killed by Shechita may not qualify as Kosher meat. There is no requirement that it should be labelled as meat from an animal killed without pre-stunning.

• The Coalition Government has no intention of making Halal or Shechita slaughter illegal, but it is considering welfare labelling of meat.

• Food Standards Agency figures in 2012, the first since 2003, show that more than 80% of animals are stunned before slaughter for Halal meat in the UK.

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