Animal Aid

Halal furore has nothing at all to do with animal welfare and everything to do with prejudice

Posted 12 May 2014

A statement released today by the leading animal rights group, Animal Aid, says that the public furore and hand-wringing over the labelling of halal meat is categorically not rooted in concern for animal welfare. Much of the noise springs from ‘ignorance at best, and both prejudice and hypocrisy at worst’.

The campaign group has spoken out today after weeks of hype in the press about the cruelty of halal meat and consumers’ right to choose. Animal Aid, however, says if this were about welfare, consumers would demand the right to know the details of the animals’ breeding, fattening, incarceration, transportation and slaughter regimes. Furthermore, they would look at the cruelty of pre-stun slaughter and be equally outraged.

Animal Aid’s full statement reads:

‘The uproar over the labelling of halal meat has nothing to do with animal welfare and everything to do with prejudice. If people were truly concerned over how an animal lived and died, they would be calling for labels to indicate how animals were restrained and artificially inseminated; how many weeks of her life a sow was incarcerated in a farrowing crate; whether eggs came from a hen who has been caged her whole life and will soon be slaughtered for what remains of her worn-out body; whether milk came from cows who had been ‘zero grazed’; how many of their calves were taken from them and shot in the head; whether the animals they eat were kicked, beaten and goaded onto transport trucks; and the length of the journey that they had to endure to the slaughterhouse.

‘But this is not what sections of the public are calling for. They are calling, instead, for the labelling of halal meat, seemingly unconcerned that most halal meat comes from animals stunned in exactly the same way as ‘conventional’ slaughter. There is no outcry about labelling Shechita meat, even though no animals for the Jewish market are stunned.

‘There is no doubt at all that slaughtering animals without stunning them is barbaric. But slaughtering animals with pre-stunning is also barbaric. Animal Aid’s investigations into nine randomly chosen UK slaughterhouses found that eight of them breached welfare laws. All of them stunned animals. Two were approved by the Soil Association and a third by the RSPCA’s Freedom Food scheme. The footage revealed animals being kicked, slapped, stamped on, and picked up by their fleeces and ears and thrown into stunning pens. It showed inadequate stunning, botched and multiple stunning, and the sadistic use of stunning equipment to ‘punish’ animals. Animals were deliberately and illegally beaten, punched and burned with cigarettes. None of these were halal slaughterhouses. Whether an animal is stunned or not, the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses is often vicious and disgusting. Where is the outcry over this?

‘Do those calling for halal labelling on the grounds of animal welfare become vegan while holidaying in Muslim countries such as Turkey, Egypt or Morocco? If not, why not? If there were genuine concern for animal welfare, the suffering of animals during breeding, rearing, fattening, transportation and stunning would not be overlooked. This latest outbreak of fury bears all the hallmarks of ignorance, prejudice and hypocrisy.

‘Animal Aid formed in 1977 and has experienced many waves of public concern for animals in that time. This, however, is categorically not one of them.’

Notes to Editors

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© Copyright Animal Aid 2014