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Poultry: Slaughterhouses

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th March 2018.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what evidence informed the Government's decision to omit the parameters recommended by the European Food Safety Authority on stunning poultry in electric water baths for animals killed in accordance with religious rites under the Welfare At Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will review the decision to omit the parameters recommended by the European Food Safety Authority on stunning poultry in electric water baths for animals killed in accordance with religious rites under the Welfare At Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Article 4 (1) of the European Council Regulation 1099/2009 requires all animals to be stunned before slaughter, using the methods and parameters listed in Annex 1 to the Regulation. These methods and parameters in Annex 1 are based on the European Food Safety Authority’s advice. The only exception to the requirement for animals to be stunned is for those animals slaughtered in accordance with religious rites, where Article 4(4) specifically states that the requirements in Article 4(1) (e.g. Annex I stunning parameters) do not apply to religious slaughter carried out in a slaughterhouse.

The Welfare of Animals at Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015 (WATOK) provide the enforcement powers for the European legislation and contain stricter national rules. Prior to the introduction of WATOK, the halal poultry industry had raised concerns that the stunning requirements for waterbaths in the European Regulation were incompatible with halal slaughter. There was, therefore, a risk that more of the halal industry would move over to non-stun slaughter if it had to follow the parameters set out in the EU regulation. The Government considered the position in England and decided to keep existing national rules, where these provided greater protection than the EU regulation, but not to introduce a new national rule to apply Annex I stunning parameters to religious slaughter.

A review of WATOK is scheduled to take place before 2020 and will consider to what extent the objectives of the legislation have been met.

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