Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What Is The Point?

I intended to have a picture to illustrate this post but they are all too upsetting.



The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter and Killing) Regulations 1995 as amended, also known as WASK,enacts EU Directive 93/119/EC which sets out how animals are slaughtered. This is the applicable legislation.

Put simply, animals (except pigs and birds) must be stunned before slaughter - Regulation 9(c). 

The slaughter of animals in slaughterhouses and knackers' yards


9. Where any soliped, ruminant, pig, rabbit or bird is brought into a slaughterhouse or knacker’s yard for slaughter, that animal shall be—

(a)moved and lairaged in accordance with Schedule 3; .
(b)restrained in accordance with Schedule 4; .
(c)subject to regulation 22, stunned before slaughter in accordance with Parts I and II of Schedule 5; and .
(d)bled or pithed in accordance with Schedule 6.

Failure to do this is an offence under Regulaion 26.

Offences and penalties


26.—(1) Any person who contravenes any provision of these Regulations shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) Any person guilty of an offence by virtue of regulation 4(2) or (3) or 24(1)(a) or (b) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

(3) A person guilty of an offence by virtue of regulation 24(1)(c) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.

(4) A person guilty of any other offence under these Regulations shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or both.

(5) Paragraph (1) above shall not apply to anything done or omitted by the Minister or an authorised veterinary surgeon in exercise of functions conferred by these Regulations.


There is an exception, Part IV (Regulations 21- 22)

PART IV

SLAUGHTER BY A RELIGIOUS METHOD

Additional requirements relating to slaughter by a religious method

21. Schedule 12 shall have effect in relation to the slaughter of any animal by a religious method.

Exemption for slaughter by a religious method

22. Schedule 5 (which relates to the stunning and killing of animals) shall not apply to any animal which is slaughtered in accordance with Schedule 12 (which relates to slaughter by a religious method).

for slaughtering animals according to religious methods for the food of Muslim and Jewish people that is set down in Schedule 12 of the Regulations. That's fair enough, because strongly held religious beliefs, despite their lack of scientific reasoning, should be tolerated according to Mark Twain's dictum even though I would ideally prefer that slaughtering without prior stunning was banned.

What does Schedule 12 say?

Slaughter by a religious method

2. In this Schedule references to slaughter by a religious method are references to slaughter without the infliction of unnecessary suffering—

(a)by the Jewish method for the food of Jews by a Jew who holds a licence in accordance with Schedule 1 (which relates to the licensing of slaughtermen) and who is duly licensed— .

(i)in England and Wales by the Rabbinical Commission referred to in Part IV of this Schedule; or .

(ii)in Scotland by the Chief Rabbi; or .

(b)by the Muslim method for the food of Muslims by a Muslim who holds a licence in accordance with Schedule 1.

I have italicised the key point, namely that according to the Regulations, animals may only be slaughtered by religious methods for the food of Jews and Muslims. It is therefore an offence to slaughter animals by the religious methods if their meat is eaten by non-adherents. The maximum fine is £1000.
 
So I was rather surprised to receive this reply today to my query from DEFRA:
 
"The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (WASK) are intended to regulate activities in relation to animal welfare at the point of slaughter in a slaughterhouse. Although WASK provides powers to require the production of relevant documents or records necessary for the enforcement of the regulations, there is no requirement in WASK for business operators to keep records demonstrating who the final consumer of meat is or what their religion is. Further the Government currently have no powers to require the traceability of meat and meat products slaughtered by a religious method through the supply chain. In view of this it is simply not possible to obtain evidence to demonstrate; (i) at the point of sale (rather than slaughter) who has consumed meat from any particular animal, and (ii) to prove that that particular animal was slaughtered by a particular method, and, at the point of slaughter (rather than sale), that animal was intended for someone other than a Muslim or Jewish consumer."
 
Thus, the WASK Regulations are not fit for purpose and provide no safeguard either to animals or consumers. There have never been any prosecutions. It is unlikely that the implementation of the replacement EU Council Regulation 1099/2009 in UK Law on 1 January 2013 will alter the current state of affairs that was apparently nodded through by Parliament on a Friday afternoon unless you contact your MP and the DEFRA Secretary of State, Caroline Spelman,  to demand traceability of meat and meat products slaughtered by a religious method through the supply chain to the consumer. 

 As the Soviet dissident Alexander Esenin-Volpin wrote in 1965, "Уважайте советскую конституцию (Respect the Soviet constitution). "  British law should be respected too.  What is the point of Parliament passing regulations that cannot, or more likely for political reasons, the government does not intend to, be enforced?




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