Vet urges animal slaughter reforms

Religious customs associated with slaughtering animals should be adapted to take in more humane methods of killing, the leader of Britain's vets has said.

John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association, said the religious slaughter of poultry, sheep and cattle caused unnecessary suffering to animals.

Traditionally, Jewish and Islamic slaughter practices involve animals having their throats slit and the blood drained. But Mr Blackwell has suggested stunning the animals so that they are unconscious before the fatal cut is made.

In an interview with the Times, Mr Blackwell said British abattoirs could follow the example of the Danish meat industry, which bans the slaughter of animals which are not stunned prior to death.

He said: "The Danish unilateral banning [was done] purely for animal welfare reasons, which is right.

"We may well have to go down that route."

Mr Blackwell said the way halal and kosher meat is created, through the throat being slit, resulted in "five or six seconds" of pain for the animal.

"They will feel the cut," he said.

"They will feel the massive injury of the tissues of the neck. They will perceive the aspiration of blood they will breath in before they lose consciousness."

He told the newspaper the issue was "one of the most important on our (vets') radar."