An overwhelming majority of British vets believe consumers need to be better informed about slaughter methods and welfare at slaughter. Very few vets think the public understands the difference between stunned slaughter (where the animal is stunned to render it insensible to pain before having its throat cut) and non-stunned slaughter.
The BVA has released new figures on vets’ attitudes to the slaughter of animals to coincide with a parliamentary debate on meat slaughtered in accordance with religious rites on 4 November 2014.
BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey reveals that 94 per cent of vets believe UK consumers of meat and fish should be better informed about slaughter methods. Just 11 per cent of vets believe the public understands the difference between stunned and non-stunned slaughter.
The survey follows BVA’s high-profile #stunb4slaughter campaign, which calls for an end to all non-stun slaughter in the UK. Although EU and UK law requires all animals to be pre-stunned, non-stun slaughter is permitted for some communities. BVA’s e-petition to end non-stun slaughter makes clear that vets’ concern does not relate to religious belief but to the animal welfare compromise of non-stun slaughter. BVA’s e-petition is now close to 80,000 signatures.
Vets’ own preferences as consumers are clear: nine out of 10 would not buy meat from non-stunned animals but almost all (97 per cent) would buy meat and fish labelled as 'pre-stunned at slaughter'.
Labelling is one of the issues that will be discussed in Tuesday’s parliamentary debate secured by Neil Parish MP, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Beef and Lamb. The Westminster Hall debate will not have a vote at the end. But BVA hopes that its e-petition, upon reaching 100,000 signatures, will trigger a full parliamentary debate where a vote will be recorded.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s debate, BVA President John Blackwell said: “Vets’ commitment to the welfare of all animals throughout their lives, up to and including death, is clearly reflected in the latest findings from the BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey. 97 per cent of vets would choose to buy meat and fish that has been stunned before slaughter to render the animal insensible to pain.
“But there is much more to be done to educate the general public about welfare at slaughter. We know that UK consumers care about animal welfare but our members believe that there needs to be better understanding about methods of slaughter and how that impacts on welfare. We believe labelling that clearly explains the method of slaughter would help all consumers make informed choices about the products they wish to buy.
“We are working hard to ensure our e-petition reaches 100,000 signatures to show the strength of feeling on this important welfare issue that affects millions of animals every year.”