'meat from humane slaughter without stunning'


By happygoldfish
August 26, 2010
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annexe iii of the eu regulation on the provision of food information to consumers (page 51 of http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/labellingnutrition/foodlabelling/publicati... ) at present begins …

TYPE OR CATEGORY OF FOOD PARTICULARS
1. FOODS PACKAGED IN CERTAIN GASES
1.1 Foods whose durability has been extended by means of packaging gases authorised pursuant to Council Directive 89/107/EEC33
‘Packaged in a protective atmosphere’
2. FOODS CONTAINING SWEETENERS

annexe iii may be amended by the eu commission (articles 10(2) and 49(4) at pages 29 and 45), unless the eu parliament within four months opposes the amendment by a majority, in accordance with the procedure in article 5a(4)(e) of 1999/468/EC (page 6 of http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/consleg/1999/D/01999D0468-20... )

the commission's proposed amendment (#205 of http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+... ) inserts a new category 1a, "meat products from special slaughter" …

1a. MEAT PRODUCTS FROM SPECIAL SLAUGHTER
1a.1 Meat and meat products derived from animals that have not been stunned prior to slaughter, i.e. have been ritually slaughtered
'Meat from slaughter without stunning'

… with the following justification:

Justification

EU legislation permits animals to be slaughtered without prior stunning to provide food for certain religious communities. A proportion of this meat is not sold to Muslims or Jews but is placed on the general market and can be unwittingly purchased by consumers who do not wish to buy meat derived from animals that have not been stunned. At the same time, however, adherents of certain religions specifically seek meat from animals which have been ritually slaughtered. Accordingly, consumers should be informed that certain meat is derived from animals which have not been stunned. This will enable them to make an informed choice in accordance with their ethical concerns.

of course, this does not "enable them to make an informed choice in accordance with their ethical concerns", since it does not tell them whether the animal was humanely slaughtered

on the contrary, it enables consumers only to make a choice in accordance with their religious (or anti-religious) prejudices

eu legislation should not give consumers the right to know "what was the religion of the slaughterer?", but it should give them the right to know "was the slaughter humane?"

give gentiles the choice!

gentile slaughter essentially involves blowing the animals brains out (or electrocution … for details see para 13 of schedule 5 to the welfare of animals (slaughter or killing) regulations, s.i. 1995 no. 731) … that's ok so long as the animal is unconscious, but unfortunately in many cases the stunning is not effective, and the animal is still conscious when its brains are blown out

now i wouldn't seek to stop gentiles eating meat from such animals, but i do think they should be given the informed choice

they should know "is this animal guaranteed to have been killed carefully and humanely, or did it possibly have its brains blown out in great pain and terror?"

proportionality

this amendment should be opposed on the grounds that it "does not respect the principles of … proportionality" … it causes undue harm to the kosher and halal slaughter industry, and to race relations, without achieving the intended purpose, of giving consumers an ethical informed choice based on humaneness

moreover, the amended legislation would not give the consumer an informed choice about whether non-ritually slaughtered animals were humanely killed

"humane"

the amendment should be revised by adding the word "humane" to the label, so that it reads

'meat from humane slaughter without stunning'

this would give the consumer more information than the proposed label, and would specifically answer the very question the consumer needs to know, thus restoring proportionality

i assume the proponents of this amendment are not actually claiming that shechita isn't humane, and unless they do it is difficult to see what objection they can have to this revised label

a survey?

perhaps there should be a survey of eu consumers, asking them "what would be your reaction to meat labelled 'meat from humane slaughter without stunning'? would you prefer to buy meat with or without such a label?"

i expect most eu consumers would prefer meat labelled as 'humanely slaughtered' to unlabelled meat

pre-emptive action?

perhaps kosher slaughterers should start now to use the label 'meat from humane slaughter without stunning', at least in a trial area, so as to present the eu parliament with an established usage?

(this could be accompanied by a campaign, aimed at consumers, emphasising the benefits of humane slaughter, and the terrible consequences of ineffective stunning )

if it achieves consumer approval, it will show the parliament that this label is in consumers' interest

if the amendment is approved without revision

even if the amendment is approved without revision, it is arguable that shechted meat could still legally be labelled 'meat from humane slaughter without stunning', since the extra word gives extra information which in no way detracts from the official label

(alternatively, the words "humanely slaughtered" could be added at the beginning, leaving the official label intact)

and finally of course there could be a challenge in the european courts on the grounds inter alia of lack of porportionality

(a interesting review of ritual slaughter legislation in the usa britain and nazi-occupied poland is at http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?70+Law+&+Contemp.+Probs.+175+(winter+2007)#H2N10 )

COMMENTS

DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 11:12

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Happygoldfish, I think the proponents of the amendment actually ARE claiming that shechitah is inhumane, compared with the stunning method. Of course the stunning method can be inefficient, but it is more humane than a method that always causes unnecessary pain and suffering to animals. Thousands of years ago, when the shechita method was first introduced, it was probably the most humane method around, but times have changed since then. Read the RSPCA info sheet on this:

http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite?blobcol=urlblob&blobheader=app...

If you get to the third page (I can;t manage to copy and paste it), the RSPCA points out that in New Zealand shechitah is practised with an immediate post-cut stun, which is acceptable to animal rights groups like the RSPCA, and this is beginning to happen in Britain too, and the RSPCA is calling for more progress on this in Britain. So it is not as though they are proposing the complete banning of shechitah - there are ways around this.

Deborah


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 11:23

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PS Actually reading the info sheet again, I think the RSPCA is proposing that eventually the law should be changed, and is suggesting the New Zealand method as an interim step. But, as I said, surely the info sheet makes clear that shechitah is more inhumane than stunning, and surely, in accordance with the Jewish principle of humanity towards animals, Jewish law ought to move with the times on this. And my basic point is that, contrary to what you argue above - "i assume the proponents of this amendment are not actually claiming that shechita isn't humane, and unless they do it is difficult to see what objection they can have to this revised label", the amendment IS claiming that shechitah isn't humane, compared to stunning.

Deborah


Yvetta

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 14:29

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I would have to agree that if shechitah is not as humane as other methods of slaughter it should move with the times - there should be no compromise where animal suffering is concerned. But is it as cruel as suggested, that is the question - so many Jewish authorities have plausibly defended it over the decades, and opposing it can be just another antisemitic ploy.

Anyway, I can't bear the thought of consuming any animal or tolerating the thought that one should die that I might live, which is why I've been a vegetarian since I was a kid.


Joshua18

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 14:49

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I am all in favour of the outlawing of shechitah in the UK. I imagine this is something close to the heart of every real Zionist.


Joshua18

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 14:52

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"Anyway, I can't bear the thought of consuming any animal or tolerating the thought that one should die that I might live, which is why I've been a vegetarian since I was a kid."

That worldview makes perfect sense. Better by far than the absurd nonsense of those individuals who say that it's just fine to eat animals so long as they are killed in this way rather than that.


Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 14:53

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Shechita UK is aware of this proposed backdoor attack on Shechita and therefore on Jews and is opposing it vigorously:

http://tinyurl.com/335m4mb


Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 14:56

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Shechita does stun, but other methods of stunning, for example by captive-bolt shot into the brain, or by electric shock, or by gas, cause injuries to an animal and delay the slaughter unnecessarily. In order for an animal to be kosher it must be healthy and uninjured. Since shechita is the only permitted way for Jews to obtain meat for food, the other methods are not kosher and render the animal treifah (literally 'torn') - it may not be eaten.

http://www.shechitauk.org/faq.html


Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 14:57

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"I imagine this is something close to the heart of every real Zionist."

Where's the connection ....


Jon_i_Cohen

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 15:46

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Here we go again
This latest attack on Shechita is nothing more than another cloak for pure anti-semitism.
Shechita, in accordance with principles Judaism holds for the care of animals, (apart from not killing animals for food), is the most humane method of slaughter - death is intstantaneous with no suffering caused to the animal at all.
Whatever "stunnning" method is used, there is always a percentage where either it does not work or it works a partially, the resultant suffering caused to the animals cannot be described on this blog - but yes I have been to an abbattoir and i have seen both the non-Jewish and the Jewish methods and there is no question at all that the Jewish method involves no suffering to the animals. Shechita UK have the matter in hand and will ensure that the Jewish way of life here in the UK will be preserved.


Jonathan Hoffman

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 16:13

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Well said Jon Cohen

It is indeeed unalloyed antisemitism


happygoldfish

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 16:55

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deborah, thankyou for the link to the rspca's info sheet "religious slaughter" (feb 2009)

DeborahMaccoby: surely the info sheet makes clear that shechitah is more inhumane than stunning …

no!! it relies entirely on the 2003 fawc report, which is comprehensively rebutted by chanoch kesselman at http://www.shechitauk.org/news-resources/resources/resources/article/she...

first he shows why shechita is humane …

How does the pro-shechita lobby counter these persuasive arguments against the humaneness of shechita? Let us examine the facts. First, it is scientifically established that electrical activity in the brain is not proof of consciousness or even of life itself. A patient undergoing open heart surgery is wired to monitors that measure electrical brain activity but the patient is totally unconscious and oblivious to any awareness of sensation or pain. Further, electrical activity may be recorded in a decapitated head. Such brain activity proves neither consciousness nor sensibility.
Reference has been made above to the argument that after shechita an animal remains conscious due to the vertebral arteries supplying blood to the brain, this is not true. It is well known that in vertebrate mammals, the brain is generously supplied with blood, mostly via the carotid arteries. The junction between the two carotid arteries and the vertebral arteries, forms a 'ring road' at the base of the brain. In cattle this junction is the rete mirabilis. In humans, this arrangement is the 'Circle of Willis'. The effect of having an arterial 'ring road' at the base of the brain is that if there is a blockage of one of the cerebral arteries, the brain region supplied by that vessel can still obtain adequate blood supply via one of the other vessels. However, this is not the case if the carotids are severed. In this case blood flow follows the route of least resistance so that blood which could reach the brain, now spills out from the cut ends of the carotid arteries. The brain is deprived of blood reaching it.
Shechita does more than prevent blood from reaching the brain. It also ensures that any blood that is present in the brain empties out via the severed jugular veins at the moment of the incision resulting in immediate loss of pressure in the brain. Additionally the loss of cerebrospinal fluid pressure causes the brain to collapse completely and with it total loss of consciousness. This entire process occurs in less than two seconds.
Professor HH Dukes of Cornell University, USA confirmed (in his study of blood pressure in the vertebral arteries of ruminant animals), that “consciousness will have been lost within two seconds of the incision”. This has also been confirmed by experiment by Rabbi Dr IM Levinger of Basel, Switzerland. Dr Stuart Rosen, consultant cardiologist at Hammersmith Hospital, London has extensively researched the subject and confirms these findings in the most up to date study, “Physiological Insights Into Shechita” (2004).

then he shows why stunning is (often) not humane (too long to copy in full) …

Captive-bolt stunning consists of shooting a steel bolt into the brain of an animal via the forehead. The intention of the shot is to “knock out” the animal. Sometimes more than one shot is administered if the first one is inaccurate. There is evidence that the shot merely paralyses the animal preventing it from reacting to the pain and distress it suffers. The animal remains conscious, the supply of oxygenated blood continues unimpeded to the brain since at this point no incision has yet been made to the animal. Dr Temple Grandin, Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University USA, has demonstrated that the shot releases large amounts of adrenaline (epinephrine) into the blood stream heightening the “fight or flight” reaction …

With electrical stunning, electrodes (large electrical tongs) are placed on the animal’s head and an electrical current is passed through the brain to render it unconscious. However, apart from the electric shock equipment not functioning properly, as is often the case, it is doubtful that the shock de-sensitises the animal. The director of Animal Aid is on record as stating that the electric shock “puts the animal on another level of trauma”. FAWC has extensively criticised aspects of electrical stunning in its Report June 2003, paragraphs 163 – 178 and Appendix D.
The sudden impact of electric currents can cause the following injuries: lacerations of the capillaries in the lungs; pathological changes in the central nervous system; a common result is also vertebral fracture. There is a high possibility of error in the positioning of electrodes, variations in voltage, temperature and barometric pressure, ohmic resistance-variables in animals – resistance which depends upon the kind of animal, its size, constitution, state of fatigue, conditions of nourishment, humidity of the skin and humidity of the slaughterhouse. These possibilities for error do not exist in the case of shechita.

he concludes …

Shechita is humane and there is an abundance of scientific evidence to demonstrate that this is so. The anti-shechita lobby have ignored this evidence; neither do they have conclusive scientific evidence to the contrary.
“There is a lack of scientific evidence to indicate at which stage in the process of losing consciousness the ability to feel pain ceases” (FAWC Report 262 page 20).

he also points out that, paradoxically, shechita is stunning …

… shechita conforms to the statutory definition of stunning in that it is “a process which causes immediate loss of consciousness which lasts until death”.

deborah, shechita is humane (see the physiological details above), and there is no reputable scientific evidence to the contrary

pre-stunning is often not humane, and there is plenty of both scientific and eye-witness evidence to that effect

DeborahMaccoby: the amendment IS claiming that shechitah isn't humane, compared to stunning.

no, deborah, all the amendment does is describe the slaughter as "special slaughter" "ritual slaughter" and "without stunning", and the "justification" accompanying the amendment makes no reference to it not being humane

btw, i'm finding it very difficult to locate sources on the subject (it would be helpful if the shechitauk site had a list of the scientific papers, instead of just press releases ) … does anyone have links for either the defra or the compassion in world farming reports on mis-stunning referred to in grunwald's 30/6/10 letter to the independent?

a very useful summary of the position, provided to all mps by the house of commons library, is at http://www.parliament.uk/briefingpapers/commons/lib/research/briefings/s...


telegramsam

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 17:23

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It's irrelevant whether shechita is humane or not and there is no need to justify it since is a religious practice. In a country which prouds itself on its freedom of religion it has to be allowed.
This is one area where Jews and Muslims can work together since it affects both communities -- that is of course if the Jewish division of the EDL/BNP has.no objections.


jose (not verified)

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 19:22

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It's irrelevant whether shechita is humane or not and there is no need to justify it since is a religious practice. In a country which prouds itself on its freedom of religion it has to be allowed.

You are confusing 'freedom' of religion with separation of Church and State. In our countries, religion is free as far as it respects the laws of the country. As far as it does, the State has no other business with religion and will not interfere.

So it matters that shechita is humane, if our society forbids unnecessary suffering for slaughtered animals (and let's hope it does).


Advis3r

Sat, 08/28/2010 - 20:12

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Amazing in a country where the landed gentry and not so gentry go out and shoot game for sport they want to curtail shechita which has been demonstrably proved to be the most humane method of slaughtering animals for food.


telegramsam

Sat, 08/28/2010 - 20:48

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The people who go out and shoot furry and other animals for sport have just as many problems with the RSPCA and such like organisations as the Jews and the muslims.


Anonymous

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 10:39

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