Poor information on Halal is confusing consumers

9th May 2014

The practice of not stunning animals before slaughter is not common, even in meat intended for the halal market, says the National Sheep Association (NSA) in an attempt to clarify some of confusion in the national press this week.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “If lamb and mutton is processed as halal it does not automatically mean the animal is not stunned before slaughter and, right around the globe, the practice of non-stun is decreasing. Sheep farmers work hard every day to ensure high welfare standards for their sheep and we all want to see this understanding of good welfare continue beyond the farm gate to the point of slaughter. Stunning at slaughter is best practice and desirable but a proportion of followers of some religious faiths insist on slaughter without stunning and we have little option but to respect those beliefs and continue to work on awareness and explore alternative options such as post-slaughter stun. A major unintended consequence of misinformed discussions about halal in the past has been an increased demand for non-stun product, not less, so raising this issue so publicly can have the opposite effect and drive things backwards not forwards. 

“NSA is in support of responsible labelling of all food products, but suggests that to overcome the problems we face when we are talking about mainstream supermarket outlets a stun/non-stun label may be more useful than a halal label. Conversely in ethnic focussed outlets the halal label may be the preferred option in order not to draw attention and potentially drive up demand for non-stunned product. This shows how complicated the subject of labelling is and that we should always think hard to avoid unintended consequences.

“We urge consumers to continue buying British lamb and not to assume welfare standards have slipped at the end of the animal’s life. If you are in any doubt look for the Red Tractor logo or organic certification, as these assurance schemes insist animals are stunned in the abattoir.”

Notes to editors:-
•    For further information please contact Joanne Briggs, NSA Communications Manager, on 07807 237982 or [email protected].
•    The National Sheep Association is an organisation that represents the views and interests of sheep producers throughout the UK. It is funded by its membership of sheep farmers and its activities involve it in every aspect of the sheep industry. More at www.nationalsheep.org.uk and www.nsanextgeneration.org.uk.