Kosher slaughter does not cause more suffering

By Stuart Rosen, March 13, 2014

There is ample scientific evidence that shechita is at least as humane as conventional slaughter. The speed and precision of the incision results in immediate loss of consciousness.

Blood-flow to the brain is halted; blood empties rapidly from the brain and irreversible cessation of consciousness and insensibility to pain are achieved, providing a most effective stun.

There is no delay between the shechita stun and death so the animal cannot regain consciousness, as can happen with conventional slaughter methods.

Research in London and America, including by Dr Temple Grandin — one of the foremost authorities in animal welfare — supports this view.

Despite its humane and efficient features, shechita has been maligned for decades by opponents who often dress up their bigoted stance in the outwardly respectable garb of science. Their publications have a number of common features. A topical investigative method is adopted and used in a comparison of stunned slaughter versus some form of non-stunned slaughter that is a vague approximation to shechita.

Within the research itself, the significance of the findings is hugely inflated and the implications of the data stretched beyond recognition — very poor science indeed.

The “scientific” lobby has championed stunning as an essential intervention prior to slaughter. Conventional stunning uses a captive bolt, gassing or electrocution.

These paralyse the animal and it is unable to display outward signs of feeling pain. However, it is impossible to know whether the conventionally stunned animal feels pain or not.

We do know, though, that millions of animals each year are mis-stunned, six per cent of mechanically stunned cows and up to 30 per cent of electrocuted poultry.

In all of these cases, the animals are likely to suffer considerably.

Dr Stuart Rosen is a cardiologist at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College and scientific adviser to Shechita UK

Last updated: 12:33pm, March 13 2014