Nigel Morris of The Independent reports that UK Ministers are under pressure to respond to growing public discontent about religious slaughter after an undercover investigation exposed the horrific mistreatment of animals at a halal abattoir.
Secretly filmed footage which appears to show abattoir workers repeatedly hacking at sheep’s throats, hurling them into solid structures and kicking them in the face has intensified demands for a complete ban on the religious slaughter of animals without stunning them first.
Four slaughtermen at the North Yorkshire abattoir have had their operating licences suspended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after a catalogue of apparent brutality was caught on camera. The footage shows animals being treated with “gratuitous violence and contempt”, according to the charity Animal Aid, which carried out the investigation.
The film emerged days after a petition demanding that slaughter without pre-stunning be outlawed passed the 100,000 mark, adding pressure on political leaders to bring in fresh curbs on inhumane practices in abattoirs.
The Government has said it has no intention of introducing new controls on the production of halal or kosher meat, a line that David Cameron repeated during a recent visit to Israel. Animals are meant to be stunned before they are killed, but there are exemptions for Muslim and Jewish producers.
The covert filming at the Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, appears to show workers hacking and sawing at throats in contravention of Islamic practice, which requires animals to be killed with one clean sweep of a knife. In one instance it took five attempts to sever blood vessels.
The petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter has been championed by the British Veterinary Association, which has warned ministers that they “simply cannot ignore the strength of public feeling” over animal welfare.