The welfare of animals destined for slaughter for consumption by Muslims is of significant importance as part of the Traditional Halal certification scheme. The Traditional Halal has adopted a holistic approach to ensure that all traditional halal slaughtered meats are consistent with high animal welfare standards. In addition, the Traditional Halal trained supervisors and technical auditors will work closely with Traditional Halal certificated abattoirs to ensure that the Tayyib (wholesome) element of halal is duly met in order to produce safe and high quality meats.
Traditional Halal & European Regulation
European Council Regulation, EC1099/2009, permits the slaughter of animals without any form of stunning for consumption by faith groups, which includes Traditional Halal slaughter. However, additional guidelines regarding the restraint and slaughter are in place to ensure that animals are spared any avoidable pain and distress. The objective of these traditional halal slaughter guidelines is to ensure that traditional halal slaughter is performed in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards and in line with the teachings of the Quran and Hadith, and the relevant animal welfare legislation(s) applicable in the geographical location of the abattoir. The Traditional Halal, in association with the certificated abattoir, will work together to ensure that animals are sympathetically handled on arrival at the abattoir. The entire slaughter process will be supervised by the Traditional Halal to ensure that only well trained slaughter men carry out traditional halal slaughter in order to facilitate efficient bleeding-out and death. Since all forms of stunning are prohibited during Traditional Halal slaughter, measures will be put in place to ensure that sharp knives are used to severe the appropriate blood vessels and also to ensure rapid blood loss and death.
The following guidelines must be followed at all times:
- Trained Traditional Halal supervisors
Trained Supervisors, who will be able to spot any breaches of animal welfare, will monitor all Traditional Halal certificated abattoirs. These supervisors will work closely with site management, Official Veterinarians (OVs), and Animal/Poultry Welfare Officers (AWOs/PWOs) on matters relating to the welfare of animals destined for traditional halal slaughter. All major and minor animal welfare compromises will be recorded and appropriate actions will be taken immediately to ensure that animals are spared further distress and suffering.
- Use of Sharp Knives
It is the responsibility of all abattoirs certificated to carry out Traditional Halal slaughter under the Traditional Halal scheme to have adequate supply of knives for the Muslim slaughtermen. In addition, there must be suitable equipment for the sharpening of slaughter knives. All Traditional Halal supervisors will be trained on the correct inspection of knife sharpness and such supervisors will be given the authority to inspect slaughter knives to ensure that all knives are suitable for use during traditional halal slaughter.
- Inspection of the Cut
To ensure rapid blood loss and death, Muslim slaughtermen must be conversant with the anatomy of the species of animals they are assigned to slaughter. As a minimum requirement, the cut must be able to severe the trachea, both carotid arteries, and both jugular veins without severing the spinal cord. The Traditional Halal will provide in-service training to slaughtermen on best practice regarding traditional halal slaughter. Animal welfare research scientists or Traditional Halal in-house AWOs/PWOs (trained by external institutions) will undertake this training. Trained Traditional Halal supervisors have a duty to inspect the neck cuts at random to ensure that the right blood vessels are severed at all times, which in return should ensure rapid blood loss and brain death.
- Restraint of Large Animals Pre-slaughter and Post-slaughter
The interpretation of EC1099/2009 may differ slightly depending on member state where the abattoir is situated. For instance, during traditional halal slaughter, the English Domestic Legislation, WATOK (2015), requires animals to be individually restrained mechanically. The Traditional Halal supervisors will work with abattoirs to ensure that the restraint of animals is done sympathetically in-line with the relevant legislation. No animal shall be lifted by its coat/wool and ears. It is also contrary to the Traditional Halal standard for animals to be thrown or hoisted alive. As a requirement, animals must be held in the restraint post neck-cut until they completely lose sensibility or for a minimum of 20 s (small ruminants e.g. sheep) or 30 s (large animals e.g. cattle).