The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling on the government to urgently clarify whether the lamb exported under the new trade deal with Saudi Arabia will be stunned before slaughter.
BVA believes that all exported meat should come from animals that have been stunned before slaughter, but there is current ambiguity around the details of the deal, which UK halal certification bodies it will involve and whether the meat that will be exported will come from stun or non-stun sources (see notes to editors).
Defra has not yet clarified these points and in April 2018 Defra stated that it did not hold data on what percentage of meat from non-stun religious slaughter is exported.
In the UK and Europe all animals must be stunned before slaughter, but there is a derogation for animals killed for religious purposes. BVA strongly believes that this derogation should only apply to meet the needs of the local community. In Germany the law states that produce from non-stun slaughter cannot be exported.
Commenting, BVA President John Fishwick, said:
“We welcome new trade deals that demonstrate the quality of UK agriculture, but we absolutely must not compromise on animal welfare. Animals slaughtered without stunning suffer unnecessary pain at the time of death.
“If non-stun slaughter is permitted under the derogation in the UK it should only be available for local communities and not for export.
“We have raised these issues directly with the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, and have asked for clarity on whether or not meat for export is stunned in accordance with the UK’s high animal welfare legislation.
“BVA is calling for an end to all non-stun slaughter, but while it is still permitted we would like to see new laws to ban export of non-stun meat such as those in Germany.”