Religious slaughter

Slaughter without pre-stunning (for religious purposes)

We're opposed to the slaughter of any animal without first ensuring it is rendered insensible to pain and distress.

We therefore believe that all animals should be stunned prior to slaughter. Evidence clearly indicates that slaughter without pre-stunning can cause unnecessary suffering.

What is religious slaughter?

In the UK, Jewish and Muslim communities are exempt from legal requirements to stun animals before slaughter. All Shechita (Jewish) and some Halal (Muslim) slaughter involves cutting the animal's throat without stunning the animal first (pre-stunning).

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) report on slaughter methods in England and Wales 2018, which was published in February 2019, revealed that 58 percent of certified Halal meat is from animals stunned before slaughter.

Key welfare issues of slaughter without pre-stunning

The Farm Animal Welfare Council (now Committee) (FAWC) report on the 'Welfare of Farmed Animals at Slaughter or Killing' June 2003 concluded:

  • The level of restraint of conscious animals required for slaughter without pre-stunning was far greater than for conventional slaughter.
  • A large cut made across the neck of a conscious animal would ¿result in very significant pain and distress¿ before the animal loses consciousness (around 5 to 7 seconds for sheep, 22 to 40 seconds for adult cattle).
  • ¿Slaughter without pre-stunning is unacceptable and that the Government should repeal the current exemption¿.

What is the RSPCA doing?

We're pressing for law changes to improve animal welfare at slaughter. Until this occurs, we propose:

  • UK Jewish and Muslim communities review their slaughter practices
  • Meat produced from animals not stunned before slaughter should be clearly labelled to allow consumer choice.

Further information

Welfare at slaughter ¿ joint statement of principles by the British Veterinary Association, Humane Slaughter Association and the RSPCA (PDF 20KB).

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