Declaration of interest: This authors of this document declare they would wish to see all animals stunned before slaughter.
Statement of intention: This document is intended for the public, politicians and professionals and aims to present an unbiased, factual and up-to-date account of the current information available on non-stun slaughter.
Please download a copy of the latest VPRF Animal Welfare and Non-Stun Slaughter Factfile using the link below:
Non stun slaughter fact file updated October 2016
Record of Edits
July 2014 – Initial document published
November 2015 – Updated to include new legislation (WATOK (England) 2015) and new estimates for numbers of animals slaughtered using stun and non-stun methods.
June 2016 – Further updates to include reference to result of EU referendum.
October 2016 – Update to include results of a survey of UK Islamic scholars on perception and acceptability of stunning
State Opening of Parliament
Her Majesty the Queen came to Westminster today for the State Opening of Parliament. I was lucky enough to be able to watch from the Royal Gallery (between the Robing Room and the Princes’ Chamber) and saw the procession into and out of the Lords’ Chamber. Whilst the speech was good, it was also rather vague and left plenty of leeway for interpretation as the Government sees fit. Highlights of the morning were the Officers of Arms who look jolly smart dressed as coats of arms and hold what can only be described as wands (I am sure they have an official name & use), and the Cap of Maintenance, which shall now and forever be known as the Sorting hat. The Houses of Parliament seem more and more like Hogwarts.
APPG for Antibiotics
Anti-microbial Resistance (AMR): Animal use and selection of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Lord Trees and I attended the All-party Parliamentary Group on Antibiotics (APPG-A) discussion around the use of antimicrobials in animals. There were two speakers:
- Mr Peter Harlech-Jones BVSc MRCVS: Past-President of the British Veterinary Association.
- Mr Christopher Teale: AHVLA
Mr Harlech-Jones spoke about concerns around metaphylactic use of antimicrobials by vets and whether or not using antimicrobials in this way contributes to resistance in man. He re-iterated that in the RCVS code of conduct, which vets must abide by, it states that a veterinary surgeon who prescribes, supplies and administers medications must do so responsibly. He also made a strong case for better recording of antibiotic use (and adverse drug reaction data) and reporting in both humans and animals.
Mr Teale gave a broader overview of the problems raised by looming anti-microbial resistance and highlighted that some infections in man are unrelated to those in animals. He discussed swine dysentery and 5 untreatable incidences where farmers had to depopulate – sterilise – wait – and repopulate from a non-infected source. He also made clear that the situation in the UK will not be replicated in other countries and it was important for the UK to balance free trade with the risk of importing resistant infections.
Before the meeting was rather abruptly adjourned there were lots of questions to be asked. Unfortunately, due to a last minute change of room there was limited time for questions. There will be a recap session on Tuesday the 24th June with more opportunity for discussion.
Of the few questions that were asked, it seemed that squabbling between medical and veterinary professions about who uses antimicrobials most responsibly and who has evidence of a reduction in their use might not be the most productive way forward for this discussion. We shall look forward to further discussion on the 24th June.
Foundation for Science and Technology
Policy choices for the reduction of bovine tuberculosis
Last week, the Foundation for Science and Technology met at the Royal Society to discuss bovine tuberculosis (bTB) in the UK and what policy choices might be available to the Government. Bovine TB strategy in the UK hinges primarily on cattle controls, but it is generally agreed that there is a need to address the sylvatic reservoir of disease in badgers. Unfortunately, the Report of the Independent Expert Panel on Pilot Badger Culls (IEP Report) was due to be released by the time the meeting was convened, but it was not released until two days later (04/04/14).
The speakers were as follows:
- Adam Quinney: Farmer and former Vice-President, NFU
- Professor Rosie Woodroffe: Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London
- Dr Miles Parker OBE FSB: Senior Research Associate, Centre for Science and Policy, University of Cambridge
We were also due to hear from Professor Ian Boyd, Government Chief Scientific Adviser at DEFRA, but due to the impending release of the IEP Report he was unable to attend.
Mr Quinney summarised the history of bTB controls in the UK and highlighted the distrust between the farming community and DEFRA. Professor Woodroffe gave a talk to explain how infections spread, what factors affect the reproductive rate of an infection and her thoughts on vaccination as a strategy for badgers. Dr Parker came third with a talk about trends in the incidence and prevalence of bTB since the FMD outbreak in 2001/02. He outlined methods for managing bTB and re-iterated the point that vaccination alone is not wholly effective; a comprehensive strategy is necessary.
In summary it was agreed that whilst there is much polarisation over some aspects of bTB control, there is widespread consensus on others. It is important to build a strategy upon those latter aspects. It would also be great to hear a projection for cattle vaccine introduction that isn’t perpetually ‘about 10 years away’.
Foundation for Science and Technology
Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW)
After a long Easter recess that caused the previous date to be postponed, Lord Trees participated in a much anticipated meeting of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare (APGAW) on Tuesday 6th May. The meeting was due to follow the publication of a report by the European Commission on whether consumers want to see stunning or slaughter method information on meat labels. Unfortunately, the release date of the report was pushed back and the meeting had to go ahead without this update. The meeting was well attended and there was a robust exchange of ideas around the question:
“What Is Humane Slaughter and How Do We Ensure Welfare Standards Are Met?”
The Panel, chaired by the Rt. Hon. Neil Parish MP, was as follows:
- Kenneth Clarke BSc, BVSc MRCVS-Veterinary Consultant (formerly oversaw Public Health and
- Robin Hargreaves BVSc MRCVS – President of the British Veterinary Association
- Russell Fielding – Retired slaughterman.
- Rizvan Khalid – Euro Quality Lambs Ltd
- Shimon Cohen – Shechita UK
- Leon Pein – Biblical Foods Limited
Outcomes are yet to follow.