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1/4/11 www.telegraph.co.uk

The religious slaughter of animals in Britain has become an increasingly controversial topic, but has been practised for at least a century in this country. Here we explain what are the key elements that constitute a religious slaughter.

Harry Wallop

By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Editor 6:00AM BST 01 Apr 2011

Both the Jewish and the Muslim communities are exempt from the Welfare of Animals (slaughter or killing) Regulations 1995 on the grounds of religious freedom. This means that they do not have to stun the animal before “sticking”, the industry term for cutting the animal’s throat.

There are no dedicated religious abattoirs in Britain. Instead, both the Muslim and Jewish groups hire time at established and regulated slaughterhouses.

The key aspects of a Halal slaughter are:

1. The animal must be alive and healthy when it is slaughtered. It is not clear in the Koran whether this allows for stunning or not. Most Muslims, especially moderate ones, allow stunning. In Britain, the majority of Halal sheep, about 94 per cent, are slaughtered after being stunned, and about three-quarters of Halal beef has been stunned, according to a recent European-Union study.

2. The slaughter must be performed by a Muslim. It is usually done by hand with a sharp knife.

3. At the moment that each animal is cut, Tasmiyah (the calling out of Allah’s name) must be performed, by a Muslim.

4. All flowing blood should be drained out of the animal.

The key aspects of Jewish, or shechita, slaughter are:

1. The animal must be alive and healthy at the point of slaughter. This means that stunning the animal is not allowed.

2. The slaughter must be undertaken by a shochet (a Jewish slaughterman).

3. The cutting is done with a chalaf, a very sharp knife.

4. All flowing blood should be drained out of the animal.

5. The hind legs of an animal that has been slaughtered in the shechita method are not kosher (‘correct’ according to the laws of Judaism).


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