Farming News - Belgium’s non-stun slaughter decision shows that a ban is possible in law

Belgium’s non-stun slaughter decision shows that a ban is possible in law

09 Jan 2019
Frontdesk / Livestock

BVA has responded as new legislation banning the slaughter of animals without prior stunning comes into effect in parts of Belgium.

The ban in the Flanders region of the country was put in place on New Year’s Day, following on from legislation that was passed by Belgium’s parliament in July 2017.  Similar restrictions are expected to be implemented in the country’s Wallonia region from September.

John Fishwick, Senior Vice President at the British Veterinary Association, said: “Belgium follows several other countries including Iceland, Estonia, Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark in its decision to ban the slaughter of animals without prior stunning.  This shows that there is considerable strength of feeling on the issue and that a ban would be possible within domestic law of EU member states.

“BVA would like to see all animals stunned before slaughter and this call has received widespread support from the veterinary profession and general public, including a petition with over 120,000 signatures.  Our focus on this has nothing to do with the expression of religious beliefs, but is about finding ways to reduce the welfare harm of non-stun slaughter. 

“If slaughter without stunning continues to be permitted in the UK, then meat and fish from this source must be clearly labelled, to help customers make informed choices about the food that they buy and eat.”

National Secular Society spokesperson Chris Sloggett said the legislation was "largely welcome" and should prompt similar action in the UK.

"Government policies on the treatment of animals should be led by the scientific evidence, which makes clear that non-stunned slaughter is inhumane. Religion should not be a get-out clause from reasonable protections on animal rights.

"The UK government should reflect on this legislation in Belgium and take similar steps to protect animal welfare and the principle of one law for all."

In October the NSS revealed that at least 17 councils were providing non-stun halal meat to dozens of schools.

The RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming and the British Veterinary Association have all criticised non-stun slaughter, along with many animal welfare experts.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) – a UK government body – has said animals slaughtered without stunning are likely to experience "very significant pain and distress" before they become unconscious. FAWC has recommended outlawing non-stun slaughter.

The EU's scientific panel on animal health and welfare has said "pre-cut stunning should always be performed".

Ritual slaughter of animals without prior stunning is outlawed in European countries including Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The practice is partially outlawed in Switzerland.