Report: Britain to debate ban on Jewish slaughter methods

Ha’aretz (Israel), May 15, 2003
By Haaretz Service

The British government will next month discuss a total ban on Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter in a move set to anger thousands, the Times of London reported Thursday.

Under European Union animal welfare regulations, all farm animals must be stunned before slaughter, unless they are killed by religious methods, the paper said. According to Jewish and Muslim religious law, the animal’s neck is slit and left to bleed to death.

Though some Muslim slaughterhouses allow the use of electric stunners, Jewish law is less flexible and shocking the animal first is not allowed.

The Times reported Thursday that a four-year study by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, which is appointed and funded by the British government, has concluded that Jewish and Muslim slaughter methods are inhumane.

The panel is insisting that the slaughter methods meet mainstream regulations. According to the Times, negotiations between the council and Jewish and Muslim religious groups have broken down. The Campaign for the Protection of Shechita (the Jewish slaughter method), says the Times, has called the council one of the most “stubborn repositories of institutionalized religious prejudice in this country.”

A council source did however tell the Times that, “if modern slaughter methods can avoid suffering, it is not unreasonable for religious leaders to reconsider their position.

Research by members of the council found that cows and poultry take up to two minutes to lose consciousness after their throats are cut, while for sheep it is between 14 and 70 seconds.

Neville Nagler, director-general of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told the Times that, “pre-stunning is against our very long- standing religious principles. There would be a very serious outcry at interference in what has been a fundamental religious rite for thousands of years.”

The Jewish method of slaughter is already prohibited by Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. In France, only the Jewish umbrella group CRIF is permitted to slaughter animals.

A compromise was reached in the Netherlands last year under which Jews are allowed to slaughter bulls, but only as long as the slaughter does not take more than three seconds.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday May 16, 2003.
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