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Muslim tribunal in UK to rule on mechanical slaughter of chickens MEAT

(London-NewsHalal, Jumada al-ula 24, 1437, March 04, 2016) Machine slaughtering or stunning of cattle and poultry has become a major issue among Halal industry and Muslims consumers worldwide. The British Muslim community has been raising voices against machine slaughtering, calling the government and slaughter houses to respect religious freedom and practices.

The acceptability of machine slaughtering poultry for Halal markets in UK is to be determined by an arbitration body in May.

According to local media reports, about 1.75 million chickens are killed each week in the UK by machine slaughter and sold as Halal – something a number of Muslim groups have said is unacceptable.

They will bring a case to a Muslim Arbitration Tribunal, which moderates Islamic disputes. Decisions made by this body, which comprises Muslim scholars and is presided over by a High Court judge, can be enforced by courts in England and Wales.

Earlier, a vets’ group has called for the government to end non-stun slaughter of animals following a parliamentary debate.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) made the call after a debate on its e-petition, which calls for an end to non-stun slaughter to promote animal welfare, took place in Westminster Hall in parliament.

During the debate, farm minister George Eustice said the government had no plans to ban religious slaughter practices.
In Holland, the government recently suggested to ban hand slaughtered Halal meat exports. However Muslim communities in the country will be allowed to do unstunned slaughtering. Some Muslim fears that the government extraordinarily leaning towards politicians calling to protect animal rights.

In 2003 the Food Standards Agency in UK issued guidelines for its enforcement officers defining what constituted Halal. It states an animal must be slaughtered with a sharp knife slicing the neck arteries and jugular veins.

A further annex in the guidelines adds the spinal cord must not be severed, as this restricts convulsions, thereby blood loss. The slaughter must be undertaken by a Muslim, who says a short prayer for each animal before slaughtering.

The tribunal will determine if it is possible to machine-kill animals with a rotating blade and meet these parameters.

The farm minister Mr. Eustice said during the debate in the parliament that the “prime minister has been absolutely clear that there is no intention to ban religious slaughter.”

Members of Parliament reportedly raised the option of introducing an immediate post-cut stun in order to reduce the suffering and pain of animals not stunned before slaughter.

Under UK and EU laws, all animals must be stunned before slaughter to ensure they do not feel pain. However, derogation allows animals to be slaughtered without stunning in Muslim and Jewish communities.

MPs speaking at the debate were keen for the government to consider measures that would better control volumes of meat required by religious communities.

The British Veterinary Association noted that more than 80% of Halal is pre-stunned, but there is already more non-slaughter in percentage terms than the size of the Muslim and Jewish populations in the UK.

This means that some Halal meat must be going outside of the communities for which it was intended.

While non-stun slaughter is still permitted, the British Veterinary Association called for clearer slaughter-method labelling of products and post-cut stunning to improve welfare.