A growing demand for the supply of halal meat in the UK and exportation means that over 70% of the meat slaughtered is halal although Muslims only make up 5% of the population. To ensure that animal welfare is cared for during the time of slaughter, EU regulations, still adhered to in the UK despite Brexit, require pre-slaughter stunning in all slaughterhouses. This is due to the claim that effective stunning causes immediate unconsciousness meaning that an animal cannot experience any pain or distress. Nonetheless, concessions are made for Muslims and Jews allowing non-stun slaughter for religious rites; a practice that animal welfare and veterinary organisations are campaigning to outlaw.
Although much of the halal meat available in the UK has been pre-stunned, the compatibility of pre-stunning with sharia requirements for halal meat has been a point of controversy for Muslim communities.
Dr Awal Fuseini presented the new slaughter techniques used, like gas stunning for poultry and mechanical and electric stunning for larger animals and highlighted some of the problems they raise for Muslim scholars. He also explained the different methods for bleeding an animal and those that yield the greatest blood loss. Dr Awal concluded by emphasising the need for jurists to collaborate with mainstream researchers in order to get a better understanding of new slaughter techniques before issuing informed fatwa and hoped to continue working with Al-Mahdi Institute on the topic.
Bio: Dr Awal Fuseini is the Halal sector manager at the UK’s Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and a Visiting Research Fellow in the University of Huddersfield Business School. He works closely with UK farmers and meat processors to create a better understanding of halal meat production with a view to maximising the economic potential of the halal meat sector.
Awal has a background in meat science, his PhD from Bristol University was funded by the Humane Slaughter Associated (HSA) to investigate ways of improving cattle welfare at slaughter. Awal has widely published in high impact scientific journals, including Meat Science, Animal Welfare, CAB Reviews, Veterinary Record and others. His recent book titled ‘Halal meat production and market opportunities: a 21st Century guide to the halal market’ has been well received by industry and academia.