Friday, March 30, 2007

Halal slaughter

I just came across a petition to regulate the practice of Islamic Halal slaughter to prevent animal cruelty, which was rejected by the government. Normally, animals must be stunned before they are killed, but there is a religious exemption for Jewish and Muslim slaughterhouses on the grounds of their beliefs - even though the same advice says "the Government would prefer that all animals were stunned before slaughter"! The intellectual case has obviously been won, but the political one clearly has not.

So, you are required by law to treat animals humanely, unless you convince the government that you feeling "spiritually pure" is more important than an animal having its life ended painlessly.

Slavery is condoned in all three Abrahamic texts, but it is not deemed morally acceptable by the three faiths now. Muslim and Jewish organisations should extend the same principles in treating other humans morally to animals, and end the practice of slaughtering animals without stunning them first.

What can you do? Sign the petition to end religious exemptions in law, whether it be for animal slaughter, adoption, or any other type of opt-out religious groupings have in this country.


Aaron said...

There are lots of inhumane animal treatment outside of Halal - from battery farming, through animal testing, to killing vermin, and hunting.

To be honest I don't like or support any of those activities but I doubt you'll get support for humane treatment of animals, and just singling out one group when there are so many others is neither fair nor liberal.

Chris said...

It is fair enough to say that I have singled out this particular method, but on the other hand, that's what this post was actually about. I am equally opposed to hunting and battery farming - I just haven't written about it here. Killing vermin is fine as long as it is done in a humane way.

Animal testing is the controversial one out of the four you've mentioned. The UK has one of the most restrictive regimes when it comes to what you can and cannot do regarding animal testing, and I think the legislation shows great regard for the welfare of animals.

However, the purpose of this post was not to start a debate on animal testing (I'll save that for a rainy day). It was to point out one of many ways in which animals are mistreated on a daily basis. Battery farming and hunting are two others. I don't support either.


Anonymous said...

Halal meat is more than just ritual slaughter. The animal should be treated fairly, fed well and generally looked after etc, these things are as much as part of halal meat as draining the animal of the blood.

The whole point of halal meat is that the animal is treated fairly and lives and dies with as little pain as possible. And so many halal butchers do stun the animal before it is killed.

Chris said...

I appreciate that and obviously I think that the animal's general welfare should be ensured at all times (I think this is a strange point for you to make).

You make the point that halal meat is supposed to have as painless and pleasant a life as possible. Why, then, are animals killed in this way which has been proven to be painful for the animal? Especially as your final sentence points out that some halal butchers stun the animals anyway!

Anonymous said...

Any sort of killing is painful no matter what ... that includes captive bolt / electric stunning etc ...

If done properly (and I stress on properly) rapid loss of blood in halal slaughter makes the animal
unconscious within 3-7 seconds ... and now with electric stunning (that doesn't stop the animal's heart but just renders it temporarily unconscious so that its heart will pump out impure blood reducing the chances of blood splash), halal slaughtering can be much more humane ...


Generally, electrical stunning of cattle or other large species may result in excessive haemorrhages
or spinal fractures due to large muscle spasms. This will be particularly so if unsophisticated technology is used. New Zealand and some other countries have developed modern methods for electrical stunning of cattle to overcome these problems, in particular for beef exports to some Muslim countries or for installation in slaughterhouses in Muslim countries where this method is
acceptable (Fig. 62, 63). The New Zealand technique is ‘the Ranguiru System4 or Wairoa Process5, and is a head-only stun.

4 The Ranguiru system is a modified electrical stun, which is applied to Western-type cattle
slaughter, where the animal is stunned through the brain and the heart stop beating. It is not
accepted as Halal by Muslims.

5 The Wairoa process is a slaughter technique developed in New Zealand, which involves an electrical head-only stunning. This renders the animal insensitive to pain but able to recover if the slaughter cut is not made. The heart remains beating. The system is humane, safe for workers and generally accepted as Halal by Muslims.

Anonymous said...

The scientific facts

A team at the university of Hannover in Germany examined these claims through the use of EEG and ECG records during slaughter. Several electrodes were surgically implanted at various points of the skull of all the animals used in the experiment and they were then allowed to recover for several weeks. Some of the animals were subsequently slaughtered the halal way by making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck, cutting the jugular veins and carotid arteries of both sides together with the trachea and esophagus but leaving the spinal cord intact. The remainder were stunned before slaughter using a captive bolt pistol method as is customary in Western slaughterhouses. The EEG and ECG recordings allowed to monitor the condition of the brain and heart throughout.

The Halal method

With the halal method of slaughter, there was not change in the EEG graph for the first three seconds after the incision was made, indicating that the animal did not feel any pain from the cut itself. This is not surprising. Often, if we cut ourselves with a sharp implement, we do not notice until some time later. The following three seconds were characterised by a condition of deep sleep-like unconciousness brought about by the draining of large quantities of blood from the body. Thereafter the EEG recorded a zero reading, indicating no pain at all, yet at that time the heart was still beating and the body convulsing vigorously as a reflex reaction of the spinal cord. It is this phase which is most unpleasant to onlookers who are falsely convinced that the animal suffers whilst its brain does actually no longer record any sensual messages.

The Western method

Using the Western method, the animals were apparently unconscious after stunning, and this method of dispatch would appear to be much more peaceful for the onlooker. However, the EEG readings indicated severe pain immediately after stunning. Whereas in the first example, the animal ceases to feel pain due to the brain starvation of blood and oxygen – a brain death, to put it in laymen’s terms – the second example first causes a stoppage of the heart whilst the animal still feels pain. However, there are no unsightly convulsions, which not only means that there is more blood retention in the meat, but also that this method lends itself much more conveniently to the efficiency demands of modern mass slaughter procedures. It is so much easier to dispatch an animal on the conveyor belt, if it does not move.

Chris said...

That study was done in 1978. More recent studies such as the study conducted by the Farm Animal Welfare Council in 2003 said, referring to the deep incision across the neck, "such a massive injury would result in very significant pain and distress in the period before insensibility supervenes", and provided the recommendation that "slaughter without pre-stunning is unacceptable and that
the Government should repeal the current exemption".

Anonymous said...

Actually if you are talking about the welfare council in UK... then there study is not scientific... (read the full report on their site) compared to other studies done... 1984, 1982, 1978, 1977. Also since we are talking about the UK and the West... most animals in developed countries are stunned before being Slaughtered halal or not... for the halal slaughter they are not fully stunned as the heart still keeps on beating.

Studies that point out stunning is inhumane... Google for them... Blackmore 1982, Whilst Gregory and Watton (1984), Athen 1977. Technology has changed alot since then... but still some of the practices at the slaughter house have not... sometimes animals need to be stunned two to three times before it is actually bleed. Where in Halal method stunned or not the death is instantaneous...

Why zahba/khoser method is good...
Allows for draining most of the blood out;
Causes no stress to the animal;
Does not cause death before the actual slaughter;
Found with no fault in any scientific study;
Proved to be humane’ , causing no “pain” or suffering or cruelty, even to a few individual animals;
Causes no damaging or harmful effects to the quality of the meat;
Found to be a sure way of death (reliable);
Found to be irreversible (slowly and gradually progressing to death);
With only one way of killing (direct method);
To be practical and realistic; quick and easy to perform in any society, in any place;
‘Very economical’ (not a lot of machinery and equipment, etc.);
Being more familiar to the animal, with less machinery and restraint (with a less threatening atmosphere);
Safe to perform (no electricity, gas or shocks, etc.);

Chris said...

Sorry, that's propaganda.

In any case, a more recent review, in the last five years, using up-to-date methods is more likely to be reliable than thirty year-old studies.

You recognise yourself that technology has changed a great deal - but that's in the "western" method where animal welfare legislation has been updated, new guidelines on slaughter have been introduced. Halal & kosher slaughter are still using the same thousand year old methods which are scientifically proven to cause more pain to the animal than modern methods. It's time to recognise that and change.