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E-petition to end non-stun slaughter hits 100,000 as FSA figures show increase in non-stun

BVA | British Veterinary Association

3 min read Partner content

The Government e-petition launched by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and supported by the RSPCA calling for the end of non-stun slaughter to improve animal welfare at the time of death passed its goal of 100,000 signatures today. The news comes on the day that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) Animal Welfare Survey of Slaughterhouses in Great Britain reveals an increase in non-stun slaughter.

BVA’s campaign calls for the end to slaughter without pre-stunning for all animals as scientific evidence shows that non-stun slaughter allows animals to perceive pain and compromises animal welfare.

The milestone of reaching 100,000 signatures is a significant step towards ending non-stun slaughter and shows the strong public backing for the aims of the campaign, the total being reached two months before the e-petition deadline ( 30th March 2015) and with only a handful of e-petitions (0.1%) achieving 100,000 signatures.
The FSA Survey figures were based on assessments by Official Veterinarians (OVs) during the week of 16 to 22 September 2013 to provide a representative sample of welfare practices at 232 red meat slaughterhouses. The survey results released today show:

•    31% increase (from 279 to 366) in the number of cattle not stunned before slaughter for Halal compared with the FSA’s 2011 Welfare Survey.
•    The figures also showed an increase of 56% (from 28,734 to 44,950) of sheep and goats not stunned before slaughter for Halal.  
•    The figures revealed a small drop of 1.7% in the number of poultry not stunned before slaughter for Halal from 582,776 to 572,429.
•    There was a decrease in Kosher (Shechita or non stunned slaughter) in cattle from 1314 to 475 (-66%), in sheep and goats from 1917 to 601 (-68%) and poultry from 71,236 to 21,716 (-69%).

The results indicate that overall the number of animals non-stunned prior to slaughter in Great Britain accounted for 2% of cattle, 10% of sheep and goats, and 4% of poultry.

The subject of the e-petition will now be considered by the Backbench Business Committee for a debate in the House of Commons. BVA believes that the success of the e-petition and the results of the FSA’s Welfare Survey increases the pressure on the Government to rethink its position on non-stun. It also calls on the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee to honour the e-petition and hold a House of Commons debate in the next Parliament at the first opportunity.
People can still register their support for the campaign by adding their signature to the e-petition until 30th March, when the e-petition will close.
BVA notes that more than 80% of Halal meat is stunned before slaughter. BVA’s concern does not relate to religious belief but to the animal welfare compromise of non-stun slaughter.

BVA President John Blackwell said:

“The success of the e-petition reaching 100,000 signatures two months before the deadline shows the strength of public opinion and support for the aims of our campaign. Slaughter without stunning unnecessarily compromises animal welfare at the time of death and as such we call for an end to its practice."

“We urge the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee to honour the e-petition and pledge that an end to non-stun slaughter will be debated at the first opportunity in the next Parliament.”

David Bowles, RSPCA Head of Public Affairs said:

“It is no surprise that this petition has exceeded 100,000 signatures in just nine months. There is growing public concern about the welfare of farm animals and people believe animals should be treated as humanely as possible throughout their lives, including at the time of slaughter.

“Animal welfare science and practical experience indicate that cutting animals’ throats while they are fully conscious can cause significant pain and distress. There should be no exemption under the law to allow non-stun slaughter and we urge politicians to take action on this important issue.”

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