18 March 2016
GAIA presented a special press preview of its investigative video of the slaughter of sheep and cattle both with and without prior stunning. Some of the footage testifies to the intense suffering of animals slaughtered without stunning, victims of the flagrant violation of applicable laws protecting animals at the time of slaughter. GAIA reminds politicians that the only solution to minimize animal suffering is to mandate prior stunning before slaughter, whether on temporary or fixed sites, and at all times.
The video starts with the slaughter of sheep carried out on an illegal temporary site set up last year for the Muslim feast of sacrifice, filmed in the Brussels-Capital Region, in Anderlecht and Molenbeek. In addition to demonstrating the intense suffering of the animals slaughtered without stunning, these images point to flagrant breaches of EU regulations on the protection of animals at the time of slaughter, as well as EU rules of hygiene concerning food of animal origin. In this sequence we see animals being brutally dragged on the ground by one leg, or agonizing sheep dying a slow death.
The next sequence demonstrates the reversible electrical stunning of sheep, proving its effectiveness in preventing suffering. Electronarcosis is a painless stunning technique in which the dazed sheep loses all sensitivity to pain. Furthermore, a minute and a half after stunning the animal regains consciousness if not slaughtered, thereby demonstrating that the animal is indeed still alive at the moment of slaughter, one of the conditions required for meat to be certified as halal.
The suffering of cattle in permanent certified slaughterhouses
The following sequence shows cattle being ritually slaughtered in a Belgian slaughterhouse in Ciney, revealing once more blatant infringements of applicable EU laws, especially when the animals exit the slaughter box showing clear signs of consciousness (vocalisations and eye movement). The same can be said for the sequence where cattle are shown hanging by one leg while still conscious. Those cattle slaughtered without stunning demonstrate severe and prolonged suffering, lasting up to 12 minutes in the most extreme cases. In stark contrast is the sequence showing cattle slaughtered with reversible electronarcosis in New Zealand, where this method has been applied since the 1970s for halal slaughtering. New Zealand is now the world’s largest exporter of halal mutton. All animals ritually slaughtered are first stunned by means of reversible electronarcosis.
The prohibition set out in the 2009 EU Regulation which forbids the slaughter of animals without stunning on temporary slaughter sites has been applied since last year in Wallonia. GAIA is delighted that the ban was respected almost everywhere in the two Regions. However, the Brussels Region has nevertheless decided to allow slaughter without stunning on temporary sites. "The images of our investigative video reinforce my conviction that we must achieve a comprehensive solution," concludes Michel Vandenbosch, President of GAIA. "It must be made mandatory to stun animals before slaughter, whenever and wherever slaughter takes place. This is the only remedy against the avoidable animal suffering heretofore involved in ritual slaughter. Besides, ritual slaughter in no way excludes the use of prior stunning."
Also note that the Commission for Animal Welfare of the Flemish Parliament met this past Wednesday, March 16th, for a hearing on the consequences of the ban on slaughter without stunning on temporary sites last year. Backed up by these new images, Michel Vandenbosch , who also attended the meeting, presented some solutions to practical problems raised by some parties, especially an alleged lack of capacity in slaughterhouses.