Vets have raised concerns over the lack of information on how much meat is exported from the UK from animals that have not been stunned before slaughter.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has long called for a ban on the slaughter of animals without stunning, and it is now calling for accurate data on non-stun meat exports.
“Each year millions of animals in the UK are not stunned before slaughter and BVA will continue to push for an end to non-stun slaughter in the interests of animal welfare,” said BVA president, John Fishwick.
He said the latest Food Standards Agency (FSA) figures shows 22% of sheep and goats, or 3 million animals, are not stunned before slaughter – up from 15%, or 2m, in 2013.
“The latest FSA figures suggest that a sizeable proportion of sheep and goats that are slaughtered in the UK are done so without stunning and that this seems to outstrip the requirements of the religious communities who consume meat that has been slaughtered in this way,” added Mr Fishwick.
“It is difficult to unpick the possible factors that contribute to this mismatch but an essential step to understanding this better would be to provide data on how much, if any, non-stun meat is exported abroad. With Brexit on the horizon and in the light of announcements about export deals with non-EU countries, there is a pressing need for clarity on the quantities and destinations of exports of non-stun meat.”
Mr Fishwick said other EU countries have measures in place to limit the export of non-stun meat.
He added: “While not illegal, if meat from non-stun religious slaughter is exported we consider this to be outside the spirit of the legislation which allows non-stun as a derogation from the law to meet the needs of religious communities.”