The perception and acceptability of pre-slaughter and post-slaughter stunning for Halal production: The views of UK Islamic scholars and Halal consumers

  1. Title: The perception and acceptability of pre-slaughter and post-slaughter stunning for Halal production: The views of UK Islamic scholars and Halal consumers


The importance of religious slaughter from economic, emotive and ethical viewpoints is significant. There are apparent economic benefits associated with trading in meats slaughtered according to religious traditions. Some religious authorities insist on the slaughter of animals without stunning , but this, according to many researchers compromises animal welfare. We conducted a survey of Islamic scholars and Halal consumers, 66 scholars from 55 organisations and 314 consumers from 54 UK cities/towns were surveyed. Forty-nine scholars were interviewed through pre-arranged meetings, 17 surveyed online whilst all 314 consumers were either surveyed online or through the remote completion of copies of the questionnaire. Most of the scholars (>95%) (CI 86.9 to 98.4%) agreed that if an animal is stunned and then slaughtered by a Muslim and the method of stunning does not result in death, cause physical injury or obstruct bleed-out, the meat would be Halal and 53% (CI 47 to 58%) consumers also thought such meat would be Halal.

Reference: Fuseini A, Wotton SB, Hadley PJ & Knowles TG. Meat Science, 2017: 123, 143-150


  1. Title: The evaluation of two commercial electric sheep stunning systems: current applied and the effect on heart function.


The maintenance of head-only minimum stunning currents for sheep to ≥ 1.0 Amp as per current legislation was examined in two trials in a commercial abattoir. In the first trial, a Jetco MS100 stunner failed to maintain the current to > 1.0 Amp in 118 of the 228 sheep. In a second trial, a Jetco MS105 delivered sufficient current in all sheep (n = 275) to meet the legislative requirement, apart from a single animal. Recorded electrocardiograms showed a regular heartbeat, with no evidence of ventricular fibrillation, in all animals in both trials following stunning and neck-cut. Only one of the two stun units may therefore be considered to meet the statutory requirements but both may meet the requirements for halal slaughter where pre-stun is considered acceptable.

Reference: Orford F, Ford EA, Brown SN, McKinstry J, Hadley PJ, Lines JA, Knowles TG & Wotton SB.  Animal Welfare, 2016: 25, 331-337.


  1. Title: A comparison of handling methods relevant to the religious slaughter of sheep


Legislation governing non-stun slaughter of sheep in England requires that they are individually and mechanically restrained for slaughter and not moved for at least 20 s post neck cut, until unconsciousness or insensibility occurs. Complying with the need for individual handling, in what is a flock animal, has the potential to adversely affect welfare, in turn contravening the general legislative requirement to reduce any avoidable distress at slaughter. This study investigated the effects of individually loading and restraining lambs compared with the normal practice of group loading and restraint of lambs prior to slaughter when using a V-shaped restrainer. Rotating and static design loading pens were also compared to represent the range of conditions and facilities found across English abattoirs. Plasma cortisol and lactate concentrations were significantly lower in group-loaded animals and significant reductions were observed in the time duration of a range of components of handling as well as the average total time to load each lamb. Loading pen type had a less marked impact upon results, however, individual loading and restraint of lambs within a V-shaped restrainer appears particularly stressful for sheep in comparison with group loading. The loading pen type had a mixed effect although the rotating crowding pen is likely to have minimised physical exertion in lambs during loading and restraint. Based on these findings, group loading in a V-shaped restrainer, whilst complying with the 20-s standstill, is likely to be preferable in religious, non-stun slaughter of sheep.

Reference: Bates LSW, Ford EA, Brown SN, Richards GJ, Hadley PJ, Wotton SB & Knowles TG.  Animal Welfare, 2014: 23, 251-258.


  1. Title: The stunning and slaughter of cattle within the EU: a review of the current

situation with regard to the halal market


The slaughter of animals for the halal market is both ethically and economically significant. There are animal welfare and spiritual requirements that must be met for meat to be considered fit for Muslim consumption. These requirements are enshrined in Islamic

law, known commonly as the Shariah law, derived from commandments in the Holy Quran  and the Hadith  (teachings or traditions of the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him). Islamic jurists widely interpret the Shariah law differently, and this has

led to debate as to whether pre-slaughter stunning is acceptable for halal slaughter. This paper reviews how these laws are interpreted and implemented and reviews the methods of stunning accepted by proponents of halal stunning. It also describes why some proponents of halal stunning do not accept irreversible stunning methods for producing halal beef within the EU, a situation which has meant that thousands of halal cattle are slaughtered without any form of stunning.

Reference: Fuseini A, Knowles TG, Lines JA, Hadley PJ & Wotton SB.  Animal Welfare, 2016: 25, 365-376.


  1. Title: A comparison of blood loss during the Halal slaughter of lambs following Traditional Religious Slaughter without stunning, Electric Head-Only Stunning and Post-Cut Electric Head-Only Stunning.


Blood lost at exsanguination during the Halal slaughter of lambs was compared between the slaughter methods of Traditional Religious Slaughter without stunning (TRS), Electric Head-Only Stunning (EHOS) and Post-Cut Electric Head-Only Stunning (PCEHOS). Two protocols were examined, Experimental (80 lambs) and Commercial (360 lambs), assessing varying periods of animal orientation during the 4 min bleeding process (upright orientation before vertical hanging). Live-weight, blood weight (Experimental only), carcass weights and by-product weights were recorded. The Experimental protocol highlighted an increase in blood loss at 60 s in EHOS and PCEHOS compared to TRS (P < 0.001) but by 90 s there was no significant difference. A post-slaughter change in animal orientation from an upright to a vertical hanging position aided the amount of blood loss. The bleeding of lambs is largely completed by 2 min. There were no significant differences (P > 0.05) in final blood loss between treatments. This research was undertaken to inform discussion on the merits of different slaughter methods compatible with Halal requirements.

Reference: Khalid R, Knowles TG & Wotton SB. Meat Science, 2015: 110, 15-23.


  1. Title: Assessment of the meat quality of lamb M. longissimus thoracis et lumborum and M. triceps brachii following three different Halal slaughter procedures


A total of fifteen male and fifteen female lambs were allocated to three groups of ten animals and subjected to: traditional Halal slaughter without stunning (TNS); slaughter following electric head-only stunning (EHOS) or; post-cut electric head-only stun (PCEHOS) and their meat quality was determined. Instrumental and sensory analyses were carried out on two muscles; M. longissimus thoracis et lumborum (LTL) and M. triceps brachii (TB). Additionally, the effects of sex and muscle type were also assessed. No differences were found among slaughter methods for pH, drip loss and shear force. TB had a higher pHu and was more tender than LTL. Muscles from EHOS and PCEHOS lambs discoloured more quickly than TNS muscles. There were no differences in the measured sensory attributes, with the exception of EHOS meat being tougher than PCEHOS and TNS meat. This study showed that the three slaughter methods had no substantial effect on lamb meat quality.

Reference: Danso AS, Richardson RI & Khalid R. Meat Science, 2017: 127, 6-12.


  1. Title: Halal stunning and slaughter: Criteria for the assessment of dead animals


The debate surrounding the acceptability of stunning for Halal slaughter is one that is likely to linger. Compared to a couple of decades or so ago, onemay argue that pre-slaughter stunning is becoming a popular practice during Halal slaughter due to the increasing number of Muslim-majority countries who continue to issue religious rulings (Fatwa) to approve the practice. Concerns have often, however been raised about the likelihood of some animals

dying as a result of stunning and whether there are mechanisms in place to identify and remove dead animals stunned with irreversible techniques before their necks are cut. This paper reviews literature about what makes meat Halal, considers the arguments put forward by proponents and opponents of pre-slaughter stunning for Halal production and examines the criteria used by Halal Certification Bodies to identify and reject animals that may die as a result of irreversible stunning and considers the specific risks of waterbath stunning (for poultry) from a Halal viewpoint.

Reference: Fuseini A, Knowles TG, Hadley PJ & Wotton SB. Meat Science, 2017: 119, 132-137.


  1. Title: Halal Meat Fraud and Safety Issues in the UK: a Review in the Context of the European Union


Since the discovery of horsemeat in some processed beef products in early 2013,

there has been increased speciation testing of products of meat origin within the EU. This led to the detection of porcine DNA and subsequently pork meat in some processed Halal

products in the UK. This situation caused a great deal of panic and distress among the UK

Muslim population, as the consumption of pork or its derivatives is strictly forbidden in Islam. This paper considers what makes meat Halal and discusses existing gaps in Halal certification and the regulation of Halal meat that potentially expose the Halal market to fraudulent activity.

Reference: Fuseini A, Wotton SB, Knowles TG & Hadley PJ. Food Ethics 2017. (Free Access)

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