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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 April, 2004, 21:39 GMT 22:39 UK
Imported lamb gets halal approval
New Zealand lamb
A third of all lamb eaten in the UK comes from New Zealand
New Zealand's method of slaughtering lamb could satisfy both religious practices and welfare concerns in Britain, says the Halal Food Authority.

The UK government has launched a three-month consultation on the slaughtering of animals used by Muslims and Jews for halal and kosher meat.

The Farm Animal Welfare Council says that killing animals without stunning them first causes severe suffering.

But it has emerged that the New Zealand practice could satisfy both sides.

In the UK the slaughter of animals used by Muslims and Jews for halal and kosher meat is exempt from the legal requirement for stunning prior to slaughter.

Throats slit

The animals' throats are slit and the Farm Animal Welfare Council says it can take the animals up to two minutes to bleed to death.

The government has already ruled out a complete ban of the religious practice.

Now the Halal Food Authority says the New Zealand model could provide the compromise the industry is looking for.

BBC Radio 4's Farming Today programme found that a third of all lamb eaten in the UK comes from New Zealand, which also supplies Muslims in the Middle East.

And nearly all New Zealand lamb imported by Britain is stunned and then slaughtered observing halal principles.

It is acceptable as long as the animal is not dead prior to slaughter
Masood Khawaja
Halal Food Authority

The government trade body Meat New Zealand has to prove that lambs remain live at the moment when their throats are cut.

Masood Khawaja, president of the Halal Food Authority, says it is not against halal practice to "immobilize" animals, provided they are not actually killed before their throats are cut.

He says the New Zealand method of pre-stunning animals is acceptable to Muslims, provided the religious rites are observed.

"It is acceptable as long as the animal is not dead prior to slaughter, all flowing blood has been drained, and a Muslim has done the ritual slaughter," he said.

The Humane Slaughter Association says the answer to the problem can only be achieved through consensus.

Its chief executive, Dr James Kirkwood, says pre-stunning means the animal is unconscious when its throat is cut, and it is therefore a humane method.

"The way forward on this, and the only way to make it work, is for the world to move forward together," he said.




SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Animal slaughter
10 Jun 03  |  UK
Lumley lures MPs to animal cause
01 Apr 03  |  Politics


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