In response to the joint letter by the RSPCA and the BVA to the Secretary of State at DEFRA regarding religious slaughter, Shimon Cohen the Campaign Director of Shechita UK has issued the following statement:

“The UK has a long held position of respecting religious freedom, which like a cracked record the BVA and RSPCA are again asking them to disregard. It is also worth noting that shechita is supported by an ample body of scientific evidence, something that both the RSPCA and the BVA refuse to acknowledge.

“We know that the level of kosher slaughter has remained consistent over many years. It would therefore be inappropriate to apply any of the RSPCA and BVA’s suggestions to kosher slaughter.

“Furthermore, the Jewish community has been at the forefront of the labelling debate, seeking to ensure that the consumer is given full and honest information and not being misled into believing that mechanical stunning is some kind of therapeutic, calm, relaxing, medicinal process which gently sends the animal into a woozy state of unconsciousness. Mechanical stunning processes are aggressive invasive actions, designed to speed up factories’ slaughter processes, with dubious welfare claims tagged on.

“We are encouraged that many involved in labelling discussions have now moved on to open, honest and comprehensive method of slaughter labelling which would ensure that consumers know whether their meat has been mechanically stunned by asphyxiation by gas, Low Atmospheric Pressure Stunning (LAPS), electrocution by tongs or electric water-bath or shooting with a captive bolt gun into the brain; or indeed Shechita.

“There have been detailed discussions on all sides but sadly the BVA has moved away from their endorsement of comprehensive labelling. We would encourage all involved in the labelling debate to work with religious communities in a respectful manner, to ensure that any labelling gives the consumer a full understanding of every stage of the slaughter process.”