14 May 2024
Religious Slaughter

I appreciate the depth of your feeling on this issue. I know that the Government encourages the highest standards of animal welfare and would prefer that all animals are stunned prior to slaughter. However, Ministers also recognise the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat that is killed in accordance with their religious beliefs.

I am aware that religious slaughter is only permitted to be carried out in approved slaughterhouses by licensed slaughterhouse workers and is not permitted in any other place, including for personal consumption. Animal welfare is monitored and enforced in all approved slaughterhouses in England by Official Veterinarians of the Food Standards Agency, including the use of CCTV in all areas where live animals are present. This ensures that all animal welfare requirements are met so that animals are spared avoidable pain, distress or suffering.

I understand that there are no regulations that require the labelling of method of slaughter, but where any labelling or information of this nature is provided voluntarily, it must be accurate and not misleading to the consumer. The Government expects the industry, whether food producer or food outlet, to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices about the food they eat.

 I understand that the definition and certification of halal meat is a matter for the Muslim community and private businesses. I know that accreditation bodies can assist retailers by setting standards and ensuring that these standards are met, however these bodies are private organisations.