Our policies

Non-stun slaughter

What's the issue?

Pre-stunning makes sure that animals are unconscious and insensible to pain before they are slaughtered. Evidence on slaughter without pre-stunning, known as non-stun slaughter, shows that animals:

  • feel the pain of the neck cut;
  • experience a delay in loss of consciousness (lasting up to 2 minutes in cattle); and
  • are highly likely to suffer pain, suffering, and distress during the cut and bleeding.

The EU regulation on the Protection of animals at the time of killing and regulations in EnglandScotlandWales, and Northern Ireland require that all livestock are stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain at the time of killing.

EU and UK legislation allows an exemption for animals slaughtered in accordance with religious rites which provides for non-stun slaughter where food is intended for the consumption of Jews and Muslims.

Figures from the Food Standards Agency indicate that in 2018 over 94 million cattle, sheep, and poultry were slaughtered in England without being pre-stunned.

Some parts of the Muslim community do accept pre-stunning. Figures from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) indicate that in 2018 58% of all halal meat in England was pre-stunned.

There is currently no non-stun slaughter in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

All animals should be stunned before slaughter.

If slaughter without stunning is still to be permitted, we’re calling for:

What's our view?

  • any meat or fish that has not been stunned to be clearly labelled as ‘non-stun’ to make sure customers are fully informed about the meat products they're buying;
  • immediate post-cut stunning to make sure the animal is unconscious after the throat cut to reduce suffering;
  • the removal of the requirement for sheep and goats to remain stationary for a minimum of 20 seconds after an immediate post-cut stun;
  • the supply of non-stun products to be matched with the demand of local religious communities;
  • a ban on the export of meat from non-stunned animals; and
  • robust and regular reporting on: the numbers of animals that aren't stunned; the numbers that don't receive an effective stun; and the amount of non-stun meat that is exported.

Our concerns have nothing to do with the expression of religious beliefs but with the animal welfare impact of the practice of killing by throat cutting without pre-stunning.

sheep in barn

Non-stun slaughter policy statement

Non-stun slaughter policy (37 KB PDF)

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