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Last Updated: Monday, 16 June, 2003, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Should Halal and Kosher meat be banned?

The method of animal slaughter used by Jews and Muslims should be banned immediately, the Farm Animal Welfare Council says.

The independent advisory body claims that the method by which Kosher and Halal meat is produced causes severe suffering to animals.

Both the Jewish and Muslim religions state that slaughter should be carried out with a single cut to the throat, rather than the more widespread method of stunning with a bolt into the head before slaughter.

Butchers from both communities have denied their method of killing animals is cruel and have said they will fight any ban.

Should Kosher and Halal meat be banned?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

This topic was suggested by Helen, England
Should Halal and Kosher slaughter be banned? Are non-religious methods of slaughter really any kinder?

Only in countries where the populace have no worries about where the next meal is coming from do we have time to wonder about how cruel is the method of execution. At the end of the day, the animal is still dead from either method.
Ellie, UK

The whole industry behind food production is sick and has resulted in mad cow disease, foot & mouth and so on. If the blood from the animals is drained off then we would have avoided a lot of the issues which we are facing today. Halal slaughter requires a very sharp knife, so the animal dies very quickly and certainly quicker than if you use the stunning method. It just a shame people cannot see beyond their own nose and consider everything that comes from religion as a something bad.
M Ahmad, Denmark

I am sorry, but it is obvious discrimination against Jews and Muslims not to allow them to eat meat in the way specified by their religion. I find people with such disrespect for others religion quite appalling.
Alex Smith, England

This really is just what Jews and Muslims need to hear and will no doubt spread pain throughout two important and valuable communities in this country. Let's ban the eating of poor harmless vegetables which get grubbed up, cut, cooked and boiled and then eaten, screaming in agony all the way.
Paul Bridle, UK

Muslim, Jewish or neither, everyone I've spoken to thinks Halal/Kosher meat is far tastier.
Fatima, England

Britain is a multicultural society, but unfortunately, this leads to a difference of opinion
Phil, UK
Britain is a multicultural society, but unfortunately, this leads to a difference of opinion on what is best. The only option is to study scientific fact as to what is in the animal's best interest, and proceed on that basis. This may restrict certain religious practices, but unfortunately, you cannot please all the people all the time.
Phil, UK

Ban Halal and Kosher meat? Not far enough! All meat should be banned. I find it sick and terribly sad that in this day and age the population at large still feels ok with the murder of another innocent living creature to line our own stomachs. As long as we still kill for our own taste buds, the idea that we humans have evolved in any way is, quite simply, rubbish.
Douglas, Manchester, UK (US ex-pat)

Medical studies have now shown without any doubt that these animals are conscious for several minutes before death, thereby experiencing suffering and pain before death. This kind of suffering is unacceptable to the great majority of the British public.
James Smith, England

A splendid idea at long last. Animal welfare should come before religious activities that are based on historical needs that are out of date today. Our food chain should be non-religious, the primary concern should be for the animals. If this means changing all current procedures fine, all of us need to adapt.
Tim Walters, UK

The religious scripts which advocate killing in this way are hundreds if not thousands of years out of date. Present day morality holds that animals should not suffer any more than is necessary, either during their lives or as they are put to death. The law should reflect this morality. The right to believe in what you like does not carry with it the right to inflict unnecessary suffering on others.
Andrew Morris, UK

In Halal slaughter, the animal is treated with respect and grace. A prayer is said for the animal and slaughter is not allowed in the presence of other beasts. Additionally if you go to a Halal butcher the meat is generally of a higher quality than you get in supermarkets. I think that our society is too squeamish about food production. The sooner we come to terms with slaughter etc the sooner our food quality will improve and the sooner animal conditions will improve.
Roger, Scotland

If we were talking about people being killed by having their throats cut as a means of execution, we would without doubt consider it to be a most barbaric of acts.
Tony, England

The animal is not slaughtered in fear; if it were the meat will be forbidden
Zak, UK, Leicester
As a practising Muslim I believe this method of slaughter is perfectly acceptable. Many have not seen what an Islamic slaughterhouse is really like. To classify the meat as Halal, it must be slaughtered according to the written ways in the Quran and according to the sayings of the Prophet Muhammed. Methods are adopted that modern slaughterhouses do not practice; these include ensuring no blood remains from a previous slaughter and that tools are kept away when the animal is brought in.

Therefore the animal is not slaughtered in fear; if it were then the meat will be classed as Haraam (forbidden) is that not more humane than using the stunning method which often goes wrong? Stopping this method would inevitably drive British Muslims and Jews to use imported meat, obviously damaging some aspects of our economy.
Zak, UK, Leicester

How can insisting on one law for all be discriminatory? Will we next be accused of religious intolerance because we won't allow stoning? This move is long overdue, I have no problem with killing for food, but to torture animals for religion or pleasure is wrong. It is not a religious opinion, but a moral one, so lets get rid of this outmoded, barbaric practice, and to prove that it is about doing what is right and not about targeting any particular group, let's get rid of fox hunting at the same time.
Peter D, UK

Each to their own. If some religions wish to kill their food animals in this way, why not let them?? You don't have to eat their meat.
John Smith, UK

Any sort of ban would bring about a massive rise in the illegal slaughtering of birds and animals in the back streets of the cities. This already goes on unchecked and if the purchasers of this meat saw the conditions, the humble carrot would take on a whole new meaning...
Tony Pallett, UK

Banning this practice is an affront to Muslims and Jews and is "meshuggah".
Mark, USA

None of religious scriptures forbid stunning an animal before it is slaughtered
C. Hunter, England
Back in the mists of time when the Kosher / Halal slaughter method was decreed, our humane methods of dispatching animals had not been invented. The stun-bolt was not, therefore, an option open to those who made the rules. With all due respect to those who embrace the Jewish and Muslim faiths, it might be time to make this small concession - and in so doing be grateful that the animal you are eating did not die in fear and pain.

None of religious scriptures forbid stunning an animal before it is slaughtered. The same writings do, however, expressly forbid causing suffering to animals. So I'm sorry, but there's no religious bastion for the Kosher and Halal supporters to hide behind on this issue!
C. Hunter, England

I don't know the exact Kosher or Halal method of slaughtering animals - I have never seen it done, but it is clear in the Jewish Scriptures that they must be killed in this way for cleanliness and as the most humane way possible. So I do not think that this ancient way of slaughtering should be banned. If this method is banned, then all methods should be banned. What'll be next? Research into whether plants feel pain when cooked?
Tim, Wales

Ban it now, barbaric.
Steve Cawley, England

It's the idea of religious tolerance that allowed this country to prosper an idea incidentally borrowed from the Muslim world, I believe then that if we were to go ahead and ban Hala/kosher meat it really would be an attack on our core British values.
Foyz Meah, UK

Both should be banned absolutely both as animal cruelty and inhuman activity.
Miklos Nomad, Hungary

It is so frustrating- why can't people accept change? These methods of slaughter were originally created out of mercy for the animal- but it is now more merciful to stun it. Why can't you just do both?
RIchard Murray, UK

Surely this is a classic case of fighting over something that doesn't need to be fought over. The Muslim/Jewish method says the animal has to die by one cut - so it CAN be stunned beforehand by a bolt to the head. The bolt stuns, does not kill, so the meat would still Halal. Also, nice to see Muslims and Jews getting along for a change. Perhaps the UN should bring this discussion to the Middle East and we'll soon have Palestinians and Israelis walking hand in hand and side by side.
Bob, UK

Several comments have referred to consistency, or lack of it. Well, why is it that there is one law for most of us that quite clearly stipulates that an animal must be stunned prior to bleeding yet there seems to be another rule for those who choose to follow such a scientifically baseless and barbaric religious practice?
Neil Wallace, Sheffield, England

Sorry guys, I say ban it!
Al Alal, England
I was forced to eat Halal meat when I lived with my parents. Since moving out and living alone I have found that the meat from supermarkets is far fresher and tastes much better and is probably more hygienic too....sorry guys, I say ban it!
Al Alal, England

I am neither Jewish or Muslim and believe that they should be allowed to keep what is sacred to them. There are much more important food related issues that need tackling.
John Norris, UK

Never before has there been such an issue regarding Halal meat; this is not the time to incur more suffering on Muslims. It just feels like yet another tactical poke at our way of life.
Shazli Hamid, England

One wonders if the original reason behind these ritual methods was to minimise animal suffering. If so, how ironic that Jews and Muslims should, by obeying their scriptures, defy their original intent.
Jon E, France

This medieval method of slaughter should indeed be banned; there is no place for it in this day and age. There is no chance of a ban happening, however, because the forces of political correctness have bigger battalions than those of the animal rights people.
Chris K

These communities are alienated enough as it is
Matt, UK
Definitely not, these communities are alienated enough as it is without forcing them to give up bits and pieces of their traditions to fit in with what we deem to be "humane".
Matt, UK

But isn't Halal meat supposed to be cleaner to eat than standard meat, as all the animal's blood is drained from their body? Whereas standard meat is still full of blood. Either way slaughtering animals is a cruel but necessary job, and I don't think banning Halal and Kosher meat will make a difference to the animals, as they'll all end up in the same place in the end. Plus think of the uproar among the Muslim community, should they be forced to become vegetarians?
Dan, UK

Many people feel that Kosher and Halal slaughter contradicts our own standards of animal husbandry and welfare. In general I think UK society goes to great lengths to accommodate the practices and customs of other beliefs but as a result our own beliefs and standards often are swept aside. The practicalities of Kosher and Halal slaughter date from another era and modern systems make this practice unnecessary for food safety. I lived in the Middle East for many years and couldn't buy meat slaughtered in accordance with my beliefs. No complaints - that's just the way it is. Unfortunately it will not be seen that way in Britain.
Paul B, UK

Shouldn't the Jewish and Muslim communities move on?
Roger Nelson, UK
Most definitely. Wasn't the law set to preserve food in hot climates? As this does not apply in the UK and food hygiene has improved over the centuries, shouldn't the Jewish and Muslim communities move on? I observe local laws when abroad, so for butchers to categorically state that they will ignore and fight legislation is an affront to our society. Remember, female circumcision is allowed in several nations, should we allow it in the UK as it is a 'recognised religious action'?
Roger Nelson, UK

Simply yes. This is fortunately a secular state and religious practices which breach the common law should be banned.
Peter Mason, UK

Before moral campaigners get too exercised about "what is acceptable in the moral and ethical society we live in" (to quote the British Veterinary Association), let's not forget that this is the same society that has backed away from a total ban on that wonderfully humane and very British pursuit of fox hunting. If we are going to judge the morality of two of the cultures in our society, we would do well to ensure that the house of the majority culture is in better order than it is.
Alex, England

Done correctly I see no problem with the Kosher/Halal method of slaughter and I certainly don't think it is any crueller than any other effective slaughter method. I have a greater problem with the often ineffective stunning of animals and the suffering this can cause. However, if we accept that we breed and kill animals for food, that we are unwilling to provide acceptable standards of care for animals during their life, how can we complain about some pain or discomfort when the animals are killed? Are we so detached from the food chain that we can get all fluffy about the feelings of our Sunday roast?
Amy, UK

How can they talk about suffering of animals when battery farming is still allowed?
Johnny, UK
This is ridiculous, how can they talk about the suffering of animals that are killed in this way, when battery farming is still allowed? Pumping chickens full of steroids with an injection to the neck doesn't cause any suffering? The Halal method of slaughter has been used for well over a thousand years. Who is the Farm Animal Welfare Council to oppose it?
Johnny, UK

As a very young lab technician 40 years ago, I was sent to a Kosher slaughter yard to obtain samples for comparative anatomy studies. I can say without reservation that the animals were terrified as they were driven one at a time into a device that turned them upside down to have their throats cut. They took between one and two minutes to die. I know that any sort of slaughter is inherently unpleasant, but the screams of these animals, and the sight of them in their death agonies has stayed with me all my life. To claim that the death is instantaneous and painless is a blatant lie. I cannot believe that anyone's God would demand such a barbaric practice.
Geoff, UK

I am Jewish but not at all religious and from my understanding after studying at a Jewish school for most of my life and watching British-made documentaries about the treatment of animals I truly believe that the Kosher and Halal method is the least cruel way to kill the animals. A bolt to the head does not always kill first time resulting in huge amounts of pain for the animal, whereas cutting the throat the blood is pumped out of the body in seconds allowing for a quick death. But tell me where is the proof, no-one knows exactly how the animals feels after a bolt to the head, but we know the scientific facts of cutting the jugular vein and how quick the heart pumps blood around the body.
Rabs, UK

Predictably, the waves of political correctness must collide eventually. Which is it to be? Fairness to animals or fairness to religious groups. Being a humanist, I'd probably favour the current methods - though not by much. However, these ancient religions are very resourceful and adaptive - I'm sure a valid non-cruel means could be ratified.
Russ, UK

Is electrocution with a bolt to the animal's head more human? How do they know this? Maybe they asked the animals!
Mr Rafiq, UK

Yes, this way of killing animals is indeed cruel. But surely raising animals just for them to be killed, by any method, then eaten, is also cruel? Who is to say that our "humane" way of slaughtering doesn't cause pain and suffering to the animals?
Caroline, UK

I suppose the question boils down to does a human being's religious freedom outweigh an animal's right to be treated humanely? Not an easy question to answer.
Neal Bebbington, UK

Yes, why not? It takes attention away from how food manufacturers fill our meat with dangerous chemicals. There are bigger issues in the food production industry than halal or kosher, yet these are being ignored!
Vish, UK

It should be one rule for all
Jane, UK
It should be one rule for all and if there are already companies being forced to slaughter the animals in what is considered to be a humane way, then all animals should be slaughtered in the same way, regardless of their final consumption destination.
Jane, UK

This is a terrible idea, inclusive Britain, not if this goes through. You are killing an animal, not combing its hair. Killing anything in this day and age seems cruel but meat does not come pre-packed straight from the animal. What next, stop lions killing antelope because it causes distress to the antelope? There is a reason why we have canine teeth.
Frank, UK

Yes they should certainly be banned. There's no justification in any religion for treating animals with such cruelty. The whole meat industry is an outrage however. I hope one day that human beings will stop eating their fellow creatures on the planet and become herbivores again.
Jelly, UK

I don't agree that Halal and Kosher meat should be banned, because it is a requirement within Islam and Judaism. By imposing a ban on this, the government will be imposing a ban on people being able to practice their religion properly. Religions are about belief, and Muslims and Jews believe that Halal and Kosher methods are the correct way to kill animals, just as those who would like a ban believe that their way is correct. Muslims and Jews don't impose their will on those who don't slaughter animals, so they shouldn't impose their will on Muslims and Jews. We all have a right to live our lives the way we choose, and this is a fundamental democratic right.
Ali, England, UK

I thought that the UK was promoted as a multi-cultural society. We can only be multi-cultural if we recognise and allow for differences in how we all live. These methods of slaughter would appear to have religious origins and we should respect this, whether we agree with it or not.
Si, United Kingdom

I find it an irony there is an ethical way to murder a healthy animal
Ravi, England
If you care so much about the animals why not ban all slaughtering, and let the animal live? I find it an irony that there is apparently an ethical way to murder a healthy animal. I think we should also stamp out alcohol because of the harm it has done and will continue to do to mankind. And don't even get me started on cigarettes. Sorry if I have veered away from the point.
Ravi, England

It is an insult to the religions concerned that they should be effectively labelled as not caring for the animals, when both are strictly instructed by their holy books and traditions that they should do their utmost to care. It is quite clear that any method of slaughter causes suffering, and it not just the point of death that should be considered. It could be argued that the intensive production line methods involved in non-Kosher or non-Halal slaughtering in this country are cruel.
Nothing I have read or heard on these topics from FAWC or others has provided any proof that animals are suffering more when killed with correctly applied Kosher or Halal methods. This is just another misguided attempt to improve a "problem" that does not exist, which will kill another successful farming industry result in imported Kosher and Halal meat from countries where animal welfare is taken much less seriously.
James McRae, UK

To be fair, anybody who is worried about cruelty to animals ought not to be eating them. Nutritionally we have plenty of alternatives.
John Bidwell, UK

You can hardly ban fox hunting and seek to ban fishing without giving serious consideration to banning Kosher and Halal practices. To do anything else would be inconsistent.
John Adlington, UK



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