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Scotland: Halal Food Authority under scrutiny

3/6/11 blog.scotlandforanimals.org

Scotland for Animals have learned as a result of our complaint that the Food Standards Agency are to approach the Halal Food Authority regarding their certification criteria.
The FSA state that demands made by Halal Food Authority on their associated slaughterhouses for methods of slaughter “do not reflect what is in the WASK (Welfare of Animals at Slaughter and Killing) Regulations” This effectively means the methods endorsed by HFA are breaking the law.

The HFA promotes a form of ‘stunning’ called “Stun-to-immobilise” which uses a current far below that recommended throughout Europe in order to render an animal unconscious before slaughter. The HFA also state publicly that this type of stunning does not and should not prevent and animal suffering pain during slaughter (1). This is illegal under UK law.

Scotland for Animals have asked authorities to investigate HFA and it’s accredited slaughter plants for breaches of animal welfare legislation during slaughter. Worryingly The Food Standards Agency who are now investigating originally tried to fob us off in writing claiming bizarrely that the issues involving the slaughter of animals was nothing to do with them. The FSA’s own remit states that “It is the role of Agency to help ensure that the meat industry safeguards the health of the public, and the health and welfare of animals at slaughter.”

This is how far Govt. agencies are going to dodge having to deal with the ritual slaughter problem.

Despite confirmation that ineffective stunning is illegal under UK slaughter laws DEFRA have now stated to us that they support “Minuscule amperage/ Stun-to-immobilise” methods. This goes directly against their and the Govts. own recommendations and policy (2).

According to the Government and it’s agencies the halal industry is now officially above the law.

Scotland for Animals are continuing to push for prosecution of HFA management for being accessories to criminal acts. We are also pressing for every accredited HFA slaughter plant to be investigated for flouting welfare laws.

The halal food authority’s own video of their endorsed “stun-to-immobilise/ stun with minuscule amperage” (and if this is what they’re willing to show publicly you can imagine that this will be the very best this stun can achieve never mind what it’s like when even this isn’t done properly) can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azol72pVvZs

SfA have handed this footage to both DEFRA and the FSA demanding the prosecution of those responsible including the Halal Food Authority.

The birds filmed are clearly showing signs of rhythmic breathing, voluntary muscle movement, necks are not arched or rigid and they are displaying no body tremors. All indicative of a non-effective (i.e illegal) stun by DEFRA’s own criteria (3).

There’s a major scandal bubbling here as the HFA boast that they work with and accredit meat products sold by among others Tesco, Asda, Kellogg’s (European), McCain, Unilever Best Foods. All of these companies and more have potentially for some time now been stocking illegally slaughtered meat.

We’ll keep you updated on the situation.


1) http://www.halalfoodauthority.co.uk/zibah-slaughterprocedure.html

2) Electrical stunning (DEFRA: Poultry Welfare Dec. 2007)

3) Recognising an effective stun (DEFRA: Poultry Welfare Dec. 2007):

4.28 All birds leaving the waterbath stunner must be checked to ensure they have been effectively stunned or killed. If a stun is effective, and the bird is unconscious post-stun, it will show the following signs:

no rhythmic breathing for 10-20 secs after leaving the waterbath;

neck arched with head directed vertically;

dilated pupils;

absence of a corneal or 3rd eyelid response;

no reaction to comb pinch;

wings held close to the body;

rigidly extended legs (not an appropriate indicator when a bird is held in a shackle); and

constant body tremors (movement).

If the stun is ineffective, the bird may show the following signs:

return of rhythmic breathing;

a corneal or 3rd eyelid response;

tension in the neck muscles;

other voluntary muscle movements


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