Take action to #EndNonStun by signing the open letter

06.02.19

We've joined forces with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to call on the UK Government to change the law that permits animals to be slaughtered without pre-stunning, causing unnecessary pain and suffering.  

The latest figures from 2017-18 reveal that over 120 million animals were slaughtered without being stunned first - more than three animals slaughtered every second on average. 

In an open letter to Environment Secretary Michael Gove, we're urging the UK Government to change legislation in England which currently allows non-stun slaughter for religious purposes. We also want them to provide further public transparency on this issue by releasing the comprehensive 2018 slaughter survey results, which were originally due for release Autumn 2018.

What the open letter asks for

We're calling for an end to non-stun slaughter. No exceptions. Until such legislation is in place, we and the BVA are calling for the following:

  • Meat to be labelled with the method of slaughter, e.g. stunned or non-stunned, so consumers are fully informed about the meat that they're buying.
  • Non-stun slaughter to only be permitted at levels that meet local religious community demand for this type of meat in the interests of limiting animal pain and suffering.
  • A ban on export of meat from non-stunned animals or live animals destined for non-stun slaughter.
  • An immediate post-cut stun for cattle, sheep, goats and deer to reduce the period of pain and distress.

Our chief executive, Chris Sherwood, said:

We're opposed to non-stun slaughter and we're calling for an end to the practice as it seriously compromises animal welfare.

Our concern does not relate to the expression of religious belief but the welfare of animals.

Until there's a change in the law to end non-stun slaughter, there are several measures the UK Government could introduce to reduce the suffering involved in this practice.

Other EU countries already have a non-stun ban in place

The letter follows a recent, high profile decision to ban the slaughter of animals without prior stunning in the Flanders region of Belgium which came into force at the start of the year.

Belgium joins several other European countries, including Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark in making this decision, demonstrating that a full ban on non-stun slaughter is possible within EU law.

BVA President, Simon Doherty, said:

There's a huge groundswell of support for a ban on non-stun slaughter, and recent developments in Belgium show that decisive change is possible where public support is matched by political will.

Michael Gove has made clear that he wants to maintain and build on the UK's reputation as global leader on animal welfare; banning non-stun slaughter is a surefire way of showing he will deliver on this commitment.

If slaughter without stunning continues to be permitted in the UK, then meat and fish from this source must be clearly labelled, to help customers make informed choices about the food that they buy and eat.

Latest non-stun Food Standards Agency figures

We've called on Defra to be transparent on the issue of non-stun slaughter and release the latest comprehensive Food Standards Agency (FSA) survey results.

The results provide details on the number of animals in England and Wales slaughtered with non-stun methods, and critically includes data on the level of exports. Although Mr Gove himself signalled a commitment to publish the data by Autumn 2018, it has yet to appear.

The most up-to-date FSA figures show that between October 2017 to September 2018, over 120 million animals were slaughtered without pre-stunning, including:

  • 118 million meat poultry (11 percent of the total number of poultry slaughtered)
  • 3 million sheep and goats (25 percent of the total number of sheep and goats slaughtered)
  • 24 thousand cattle (1 percent of the total number of cattle slaughtered)

All animals slaughtered under the Shechita (for Kosher) are non-stunned, however, between two thirds and three quarters of meat labelled Halal is from animals that have been pre-stunned.

Sign the open letter

Concerned members of the public can take action and sign the open letter and join the online debate using the hashtag #EndNonStun.