Following the Mail on Sunday investigation into the widespread use of meat and meat products from animals not stunned before slaughter, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) is writing to the companies involved to express its concern that the use of this meat in the wider food chain will lead to an increase in the number of animals slaughtered without stunning and an increase in unnecessary suffering.
The BVA has also renewed its call for clearer food labelling so that consumers are aware when they buy meat or meat products whether or not the animals were slaughtered as humanely as possible.
The Mail on Sunday found that meat slaughtered under certain religious rules without pre-stunning (including kosher and some halal meat), is entering the mainstream food chain without being labelled as such. The investigation found that the meat is being used in schools, hospitals, pub chains and certain sporting venues.
The investigation follows news reports that GateGourmet, one of the largest airline caterers, is considering making the majority of its meals halal.
The BVA is concerned that consumers are confused by existing food labels and supports moves by the European Parliament to introduce mandatory labelling of meat from non-stunned animals, including use of the meat in other products. The BVA also supports the concept of one clear EU-wide label that would indicate higher welfare throughout the food chain.
Commenting, Professor Bill Reilly, President of the British Veterinary Association, said:
“Whilst we understand the need to respect religious freedoms the BVA believes that all animals should be stunned before slaughter to ensure the highest possible welfare for the animals.
“The exemption for religious slaughter should therefore be kept to a minimum. Meat from animals slaughtered according to these religious rules should not used in the mainstream market, particularly if it is not labelled as such.
“Earlier this year the European Parliament voted in favour of the compulsory labelling of meat from non-stunned animals and the British Veterinary Association strongly welcomed this move.
“We believe that consumers do want to make choices based on higher animal welfare and not cause unnecessary suffering. They should have the right information to make those pro-welfare choices.”