“It is high time that France followed the example of its Belgian neighbors and prohibited ritual slaughter”

Tribune. Thursday, October 14, Bernard Clerfayt, Belgian Minister in charge of animal welfare, announced to put back on the table theban on slaughter without “stunning” (ritual) in the Brussels region. We could however fear that, if nothing is done to prevent it, the ritual slaughter, already banned in the rest of Belgium and in other European countries, will only move towards France.

However, this practice also raises questions in a country where 85% of the French are against slaughter without “stunning” (according to an IFOP survey of 2020). Alongside major animal associations such as the SPA or the Slaughter Animal Support Work, which have been fighting ritual slaughter for decades, L214 has already denounced and documented with several surveys violence linked to ritual slaughter for halal and kosher meat.

Or, as recalled by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2019 to justify its refusal of the European organic production label for halal meats, “Scientific studies have established that stunning is the technique which least adversely affects animal welfare at the time of slaughter”. In Europe, ritual slaughter is now banned in Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Slovenia, Iceland, Denmark and Belgium.

Gifted with conscience

Thus, it would be wrong to sum up slaughter without stunning as a religious issue. A universally shared moral intuition tells us that no one should make animals suffer unnecessarily. Today, biologists are able to say that, in all likelihood, vertebrate animals are endowed with consciousness, personality and desires of their own.

Read also Ritual slaughter: prior stunning may be imposed in the EU in the name of animal welfare

For the general public as much as for ethicist philosophers, it is consensual that consequently these animals and their feelings count for themselves, regardless of the importance given to them by such or such human according to his religion or his personal convictions. And it is this respect for others which motivates 80% of French people to ask for at least one mandatory labeling informing the consumer if the animal has been killed with or without prior desensitization.

Which animals would be labeled in this way? Much more than those stamped halal or kosher: it is difficult to estimate the share of animals slaughtered according to ritual practices but whose meat is not labeled accordingly, but the Ministry of Agriculture mentions the figure of 26% of ruminants (more than 2.5 million individuals). Beyond this aspect, slaughter without stunning is not only about misfires on the slaughter line – either tens of millions of animals per year in France, according to figures from the European Food Safety Authority -, but especially all fish.

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“It is high time that France followed the example of its Belgian neighbors and prohibited ritual slaughter”