The House of Lords is preparing to debate the subject of killing without stunning this Thursday, 16 January. 

We’re renewing our call for improved welfare of all farm animals at the time of slaughter and clearer labelling of production methods.

More than 900 million farm animals are slaughtered for meat in the UK every year. The vast majority are stunned pre-slaughter. However, the law permits the Jewish and Muslim communities to kill animals by religious methods without any form of pre-stunning.

While we recognise that religious beliefs and practices should be respected we also believe that animals should only be slaughtered under the most humane conditions.

Dr Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA’s farm animal science department said:

“Farm animals deserve to be treated with care and respect throughout their lives, from the time they are born right up to their final moments in the abattoir.


We want to see all animals rendered unconscious before slaughter. Until that time we are calling for clear labelling so shoppers are armed with information that can enable them to make an informed choice about whether they buy meat from animals which have not been stunned before slaughter.


Freedom Food Logo © Freedom FoodUntil there is better, universal labelling, shoppers should look for the blue and white Freedom Food label. Meat produced under this RSPCA assurance scheme comes from animals inspected to the RSPCA’s farm animal welfare standards which do not permit slaughter without pre-stunning.”

Scientific research shows that slaughtering animals without pre-stunning (to render them insensible to pain and distress) can cause unnecessary suffering.

We believe mandatory labelling should be introduced so that all meat that has not been stunned is labelled and we will press for European rules on this in 2014.

David Bowles, head of public affairs for the RSPCA, who has written a report for the House of Lords debate, added:

“We know this is a subject that our supporters feel passionately about. We share their welfare concerns and that is why we have continued to campaign for killing without stunning to be discussed at the highest possible levels.”

We’ve been working with the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) on this issue, read our joint statement.

Find out more about our farm assurance and food labelling scheme Freedom Food.

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