|The Independent and the Daily Telegraph both revisited the halal meat issue with articles published in their respective Saturday editions on comments by Professor Bill Reilly, ex-president of the British Veterinary Association, claiming that animals are being slaughtered according to religious guidelines for commercial gain and with no regard for the pain inflicted on un-stunned animals.|
From Saturday’s Independent:
"A former president of the British Veterinary Association claims that meat producers have increased the number of animals slaughtered according to religious principles, without prior stunning, because it is commercially advantageous for them to do so.
"Professor Bill Reilly, a consultant in veterinary public health and former chairman of the UK Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food, said the growth in the slaughter of animals which had not been stunned was "unacceptable" and should be curbed, if not banned.
"Citing reports by the Farm Animal Welfare Council and EU-funded Dialrel Project, he said films posted on YouTube "clearly demonstrate the pain and distress of obviously still sentient animals after non-stun slaughter".
"Although UK and EU legislation allows for the slitting of animals' throats without prior stunning to enable Muslims and Jews to meet the dietary requirements of their faiths, the rapid increase in the production of halal meat in particular now greatly exceeds the proportion of Muslims in the UK population. The halal share of the UK meat market has grown from 11 per cent in 2001 to 25 per cent today, he said. The Muslim population is estimated at 4.6 per cent.
"Writing in Veterinary Record, Professor Reilly said: "Why has there been this growth in demand for halal meat and the proportion that is from non-stunned animals? There may be operational advantages for an abattoir if stunning is not carried out. Other commercial drivers include the convenience of not offering a Halal processing line."
"Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy general-secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, said there had been a "lot of confusion" over Halal meat, which may be stunned before slaughter and still be labelled Halal. "Over 90 per cent of Halal meat is stunned before slaughter," he said."
The Daily Telegraph adds:
"As a veterinary student in the 1970s he [Prof Reilly] confessed to being "appalled" after witnessing orthodox Jewish Schecita slaughter for the first time, writing that "the distress, fear and pain were there for all to see (and hear) in the abattoir".
"A quarter of all meat on the British market is now killed according to the non-stun Halal principle despite the fact the Muslim community makes up only three to four per cent of the British population.
"He wrote: "In my view, the current situation is not acceptable and, if we cannot eliminate non-stunning, we need to keep it to the minimum.
“This means restricting the use of Halal and Kosher meat to those communities that require it for their religious beliefs, and where possible, convincing them of the acceptability of the stunned alternatives."
"Discussing approaches to slaughter with religious communities has been successful in New Zealand, which exports large quantities of Halal meat despite requiring that all animals be stunned before slaughter, he said."
For an indication of the sort of “confusion” that reigns on halal meat, have a read of some of the 1117 comments posted to the Telegraph article. A short sample below:
"The solution is to boycott supermarkets that sell halal meat. Or just eat pork!"
"Again, the Muslims try and justify forcing their religion on others. The science behind the method of killing is immaterial - it's a question of consumer choice and whether the majority should be deceived in consuming meat that's prepared for a specific cultural group. I'm not a Muslim, I do not wish to consume Halal meat."
"Blaggy dear, most non-muslims don't like muslims, that is why they focus in on halal. Chances are the muslims will be the most despised lot for years to come"
"This is what happens when being 'politically correct' takes precedence over being cruel to animals! Muslims can get away with anything if they claim it is religious!"
"Fair play to the Jews at least they integrate into our society unlike the Muslim community, they infiltrate everything to secure jobs and for themselves, and impose sharia law.
"I have signed the petition with the most signatures on but i'm not going to hold by breath."