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Survey highlights confusion over Halal
Halal meat must be derived from specific animals and slaughtered in accordance with the Quran and other religious scriptures.
Bristol academic explores attitudes to stunning

A new survey of UK Islamic scholars and Halal consumers has revealed differing opinions on the acceptability of stunning before slaughter.

Awal Fuseini of the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Science, carried out the survey of 66 scholars and 314 consumers. The findings have been published in the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) journal Animal Welfare.

Key findings included:
  • over 95 per cent of the scholars surveyed suggested that pre-slaughter stunning would be Halal-compliant if it could be shown that the procedure does not result in instantaneous death
  • the majority of respondents (69 per cent) did not think stunning could reduce or abolish the pain associated with the neck cut
  • fifty-eight per cent were not convinced that some methods of stunning are reversible, and so put a blanket ban on all types of stunning.
In order for meat to be considered Halal, it must be derived from specific animals and slaughtered in accordance with the Quran and other religious scriptures. These prohibit Muslims from consuming meat from animals that died before they were cut and bled out.

Slaughtering animals without pre-stunning has been shown to compromise welfare, owing to the pain associated with the neck cut and the time that elapses before the animal falls unconscious.

Stunning is now widely accepted in many Muslim-majority countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia. However, UFAW says that different authorities define death in different ways, meaning there is a lack of clarity on which methods of stunning are acceptable. The two main definitions are based on the absence of a heartbeat or irreversible loss of brain function.

Mr Fuseini wrote in Animal Welfare: ‘The requirements of Halal slaughter continue to confuse meat processors, animal science researchers and Halal meat consumers due to differences of opinion regarding some aspects of the rules.

‘The rules require animals to be alive at the time of neck-cutting but there appears to be no consensus within the Muslim community on the correct definition and assessment of death and this has resulted in several Halal standards which confuses Halal consumers and abattoir operators as to the true definition of Halal slaughter. 

‘To safeguard the welfare of animals during Halal slaughter, Islamic jurists need to agree on the rules of Halal slaughter and a definition of death so that there can be clarity of acceptable methods of stunning for Halal meat production.’

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AWF Student Grant open for submissions

News Story 1
 Applications are open for the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF) Student Grant Scheme for innovative research projects designed to impact animal welfare.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students of veterinary science, veterinary nursing, agriculture studies and animal welfare are invited to submit their proposals to undertake research projects next year.

Grants are decided based on the project’s innovation, relevance to topical animal welfare issues and ability to contribute towards raising animal welfare standards. For more information visit animalwelfarefoundation.org.uk.  

Click here for more...
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SPANA film highlights plight of working animals overseas

Animal welfare charity SPANA (The Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has teamed up with Brian Blessed and other famous voices to highlight the plight of working animals overseas.

In a new animated film, the celebrities raise awareness by showing the solidarity of the UK's own working animals on strike. A sniffer dog (Brian Blessed), police horse (Peter Egan) and sheepdog (Deborah Meaden) are shown ignoring their duties and protesting in solidarity with animals in developing countries.

SPANA chef executive Geoffrey Dennis said: "We are so grateful to Deborah, Peter and Brian for lending their voices to our new film, and for speaking up for millions of working animals overseas. SPANA believes that a life of work should not mean a life of suffering, and it is only thanks to people’s generosity and support that we can continue our vital work improving the lives of these animals."