UK non-stun animal export data under scrutiny

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

22% of sheep and goats were not stunned before slaughter
22% of sheep and goats were not stunned before slaughter
Concerns over the lack of information on UK exports of meat from animals that have not been stunned before slaughter have been raised by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

Citing figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that 22% of sheep and goats were not stunned before slaughter, an increase from 15% in 2013, the BVA warned: “This lack of information has been brought into sharp relief by the recent government announcement on a trade deal with Saudi Arabia that could greatly increase the exports of British lamb and other meat, some of which may be from non-stun slaughter.”

The BVA is calling for all animals to be stunned before slaughter and has been urging an end to non-stun slaughter in the UK for several years. If non-stun slaughter is permitted, BVA believes that non-stun meat should only be provided to match domestic demand and not exported for consumption.

It suggested that the UK follow the example of its European neighbours. “Other EU countries that allow non-stun slaughter have measures in place to limit the export of non-stun meat to help ensure that meat killed by this method is for the domestic market. For example, Germany requires that abattoirs apply for a licence by defining the number of animals to undergo non-stun slaughter to meet local demand only.”

BVA president John Fishwick said: “Each year millions of animals in the UK are not stunned before slaughter and BVA will continue to push for an end to non-stun slaughter in the interests of animal welfare. The latest FSA figures suggest that a sizeable proportion of sheep and goats that are slaughtered in the UK are done so without stunning and that this seems to outstrip the requirements of the religious communities who consume meat that has been slaughtered in this way.

“It is difficult to unpick the possible factors that contribute to this mismatch but an essential step to understanding this better would be to provide data on how much, if any, non-stun meat is exported abroad. With Brexit on the horizon and in the light of announcements about export deals with non-EU countries, there is a pressing need for clarity on the quantities and destinations of exports of non-stun meat.

“While not illegal, if meat from non-stun religious slaughter is exported, we consider this to be outside the spirit of the legislation which allows non-stun as a derogation from the law to meet the needs of religious communities.”

Related topics: United Kingdom, Industry & Markets

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