Farming minister: Shechitah to be reviewed

By Jessica Elgot, June 14, 2012

The Food and Farming Minister, who described kosher slaughter as "wholly unacceptable", has promised the forthcoming public consultation on animal welfare will include a review of the rules concerning shechitah.

James Paice MP, a vocal critic of kosher and halal methods of killing, told the British Meat Packers Association that a public consultation on animal welfare would open later this year.

"Killing an animal without stunning is not acceptable in the western world. But we need to be tolerant and understanding of religious communities who want their meat produced in that way," he told the BMPA, according to the trade publication, Food Manufacture.

Mr Paice said that he had witnessed slaughter without stunning, claiming that it took "six minutes" for cattle to bleed to death.

New European Union rules on animal welfare will apply to the UK from January 2013 and the government has promised a consultation to ensure UK legislation is not weakened by the change.

She added: "The government has no plans to ban religious slaughter. However, changes to all rules on welfare at slaughter will be required when a new EU regulation on welfare at the time of killing comes into effect."The EU legislation will ban slaughter without stunning, but makes an exception for religious slaughter.

A spokesman for campaign group Shechita UK said: "Jim Paice used his speech to the BMPA conference to restate his oft-heard, deeply troubling personal views about religious slaughter. Shechita UK will of course be writing to him once again to protest in the strongest terms, reminding him of government policy in this regard.

"Fortunately, the government remains respectful of the right of faith groups to practise religious slaughter and we have been working with officials at Westminster to ensure that none of the additional measures proposed will impede shechitah in any way."

Earlier this week, the Dutch government conceded to Jewish and Muslim groups seeking an agreement to prevent a ban on kosher and halal slaughter, that slaughter without stunning would be permitted as long as the animal loses consciousness within 40 seconds. If it does not, it must be stunned, rendering the meat unkosher.

Last updated: 11:09am, June 14 2012