Animal Rights Clash with Muslim Meat Producers over Painful Halal Practices

Abdul Aziz inspects halal beef and goat meat at his halal slaughter house, in Newark, N.J., Friday, Sept. 12, 2003. New Jersey's Muslim community is pushing for changes to the state's law governing halal food, including a ruling on what is and is not prepared in a manner acceptable under …
AP Photo/Mike Derer

New research shows that animals are dying in unnecessary pain because of a lack of understanding over the practice of stunning, which stops animals from feeling pain when their throats are cut.

A study by researchers at the University of Bristol suggests that some Islamic scholars are ignorant about the humane practice of stunning, leaving animals to die in pain, the Daily Mail reports.

In traditional slaughterhouses, animals are stunned with an electric shock to ensure they are unconscious before their throats are cut.

The practice is supposed to minimize the suffering of the animal before its death, but many Muslim meat producers do not stun their animals before slaughtering them because of fears that the practice is not “halal” or permissible under Islamic law.

Under the halal method of slaughtering animals, animals are slaughtered by the throat with one swipe of a blade while a Muslim butcher recites a religious verse.  All the blood is drained from the animal after slaughter because Islamic law forbids the consumption of blood.

Research shows that electric shocks lessen the pain felt by animals when their throats are cut.

Animals must be stunned under European Union regulations, but there is an exception for those who oppose the practice due to religious beliefs.

About 2.4 million sheep and goats were put to death using the religious method in halal and kosher slaughterhouses in 2013, a 60 percent increase from 2011.

Thirty-seven percent of sheep and goats, 25 percent of cattle and 16 percent of poultry were killed in this way in halal slaughterhouses.

Researchers from the University of Bristol School of Veterinary Science asked Islamic scholars and Halal consumers about their opinion of pre-slaughter stunning. Sixty-nine percent of scholars said they did not agree that stunning before slaughter would reduce the pain felt by animals, according to the Daily Mail.

However, more than 95 percent of the scholars and 53 percent of consumers agreed that if stunning did not result in death, cause physical injury or obstruct bleed-out, the meat would be considered Halal.

Islamic law has also denied deeming meat as halal because of its name in certain countries.

In Malaysia, food outlets were forced to rename “hot dogs” or risk being refused halal certification because dogs are considered unclean according to Islamic law.


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