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Kosher and Halal Slaughter are Humane

11 May 2014

The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester is dismayed by some of the debate around animal slaughter and believes that citizens need better information.

Jews and Muslims are united in their belief that their religions require them to treat animals with kindness and to ensure that slaughter should be painless. That is why the rules of shechita (slaughter in accordance with Jewish religious requirements) and zabihah (slaughter in accordance with Muslim religious requirements) were developed. Both aim to end the animal’s life in a manner that is as painless as possible.

Stunning before slaughter is used by mainstream abattoirs as there is a widespread belief that it is more humane. However the scientific evidence on this points the other way.

Several decades ago, in 1978, Wilhelm Schulze and his colleagues published a paper in German, in the journal Deutsche Tieraerztliche Wochenschrift, which summarised various pieces of research about whether stunning reduced animals’ pain before slaughter. An English translation of their paper can be read at the link Very briefly they found that there was no greater suffering with shechita and zabihah.

The American, Professor Temple Grandin, is an expert on animal welfare in the context of large scale slaughter.  On her website she has written extensively on what she refers to as “ritual slaughter practices” and in particular addressed some studies that purport to show that shechita and halal slaughter are cruel. See Her findings unequivocally show the minimisation of suffering when religious slaughter is practiced properly.

We believe that the debate should be informed by a better understanding of the facts and also take into account the frequency with which stunning in mainstream abattoirs fails to effectively stun the animal. Those concerned about how we slaughter animals for human consumption, including the UK’s new Chief Veterinary Officer, would be better served by looking to improve the conditions of animals and the competence of slaughterers than attacking methods that have been shown to minimise suffering.

We also consider that calls of the labelling of meat sold in the main food chain as “halal” or “kosher” (where they are not being marketed as such) are biased if they do not also call for full disclosure of the way that all other animals are killed. We fully support the letter sent to the Telegraph by Henry Grunwald of Shechita UK and Dr Shuja Shafi of the Muslim Council of Britain which is reproduced below:

SIR – Yet again, religious slaughter is in the headlines. If two chickens reared in exactly the same conditions are both electrocuted until they are unconscious and then one goes into an enormous machine which scalds, feathers and decapitates it, while the other goes to a Muslim who happens to be reciting a prayer, why are critics quite content with the former but up in arms about the latter?

Consumers should be informed whether an animal has been mechanically stunned prior to slaughter and whether it has endured repeat stuns if the first attempt was ineffective.

They should also be told the method of slaughter: captive bolt shooting, gassing, electrocution, drowning, trapping, clubbing or any of the other approved methods.

Comprehensive labelling should be supported by faith communities and animal welfare groups alike. It would offer all consumers genuine choice, whether they are motivated by animal welfare, religious observance, or even intolerance of anyone who looks or worships differently to them.

Henry Grunwald - Chairman, Shechita UK
Dr Shuja Shafi - Deputy Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain





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The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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