The subject of Halal and Kosher meat is headline news once again as UKIP has announced a new policy – to support the BVA and RSPCA in calling for a ban on non-stun slaughter.
I am the UKIP PPC for Stockton North and proud to be Jewish. I am a secular Jew and do not follow the Kosher laws.
In the Jewish religion, the present day Jewish leaders have declared that administering an electric shock to an animal prior to shehitah (Kosher slaughtering) is prohibited, because it incapacitates the animal and renders it a trefah (an animal unfit to eat). And hence the current dilemma.
The rules regarding Kosher meat were adopted during a time when the wrong preparation of food could easily cause illness or death and were, I believe, designed to provide protection.
It could also be possible that the Kosher rules were not to do with safety and were purely developed around religious interpretation. Either way, I don’t think it makes any difference to my arguments below as to whether the rules were for safety, religion or a mix of the two.
My belief is that it is right that an animal should be slaughtered in the most humane way possible. So what does this mean for Kosher laws?
An animal that is stunned by electric shock is rendered temporarily unconscious, or asleep. The animal is not dead, it is not injured and it continues to live totally unharmed at this point. The animal’s heart is still beating and if it were now left alone it would quickly wake up and continue its life unharmed. Surely, one could therefore argue that the animal is not trefah? Electrical stunning did not exist at the time the Kosher laws were established, but the whole spirit of the Kosher laws were designed to prevent the animal from suffering. Would it be so wrong to update the laws to include electrical stunning before slaugher, or it is forbidden for me even to raise this as an issue to be debated?
In conclusion, we are in the 21st century now and have moved a long way forward from whence our ancestors started. They developed rules within the knowledge they had at the time to best help their society move forward. So what I would like to see now is that we continue to move forward and make small but meaningful changes that ensure we continue to develop and integrate with modern British society. Is it such a big change for an animal to be sleeping when slaughtered instead of awake?