June 20 2011
With Australia’s live cattle exports to Indonesia still in limbo, the RSPCA is now calling for Australian abattoirs to be banned from ritually killing animals without stunning them first.
The national halal standard requires most abattoirs to stun the animals before their throat is cut, but several have been given approval to kill animals without stunning.
RSPCA spokeswoman Melina Tensen says it is a brutal practice and should be banned.
“The RSPCA believes that it’s unacceptable to cut the throat of an animal or sever blood vessels while the animal is fully conscious,” she said.
“It’s been shown that sheep can be conscious after the throat cuts for 20 to 30 seconds.
“So that’s quite a long time to be aware of the fact that the pain of the knife cut and the actual stress of the bleeding-out process.
“With cattle that have had their throat cut, they can remain conscious for up to two minutes. From an animal welfare perspective, killing an animal without stunning it first is unacceptable.”
The Federal Government is reviewing ritual slaughter standards but is not pre-empting the findings.
Halil Haliloff owns a farm north of Adelaide which is one of nine abattoirs in South Australia that is allowed to kill without stunning.
The Turkish-born Muslim has been running the small abattoir for sheep and goats for about seven years and has around 50 animals at any given time.
There were not any customers when the ABC visited, so the kill floor was clean and empty.
But Mr Haliloff says the sheep must be facing Mecca when its throat is cut and its blood drained.
He says most of his customers would not buy the meat if it had been stunned.
“I kill them for the religion, if not do for the religion then my customer [would] run away,” he said.
He says many of his customers actually watch him slaughter the animals to ensure it is halal.
“[They] want to buy fresh meat, because shops keep it in a cool room. [Here it is] from ice, it’s halal.”
Mr Haliloff’s daughter Emine helps out with the farm, especially during the busy holy season of Ramadan.
She is horrified by the cruelty in Indonesia broadcast on ABC’s Four Corners, but she does not believe slaughtering without stunning is inhumane.
“If it’s done correctly, I believe there are no issues,” she said.
“But people who are doing it incorrectly, those are the ones that bring the rest of the Muslim community down, which is quite bad.”
The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils is the accreditation body for halal food.
It accepts the stunning of animals but president Ikebal Patel says exemptions are needed to accommodate for religious freedoms.
“It’s not necessarily more humane to have all animals stunned because the process of stunning itself is inherently painful to the animal on impact,” he said.
“The jury’s out, but I think [if] you talk to somebody who may be having a very strong belief that it should be all non-standard, you are denying them their right from a religious perspective.
“It could be discrimination, it could also be belittling one of their fundamental rights to existence.”
Back at the farm in Adelaide, Emine is worried about what a ban might do to her family’s business.
“It’s like spitting in our face and saying it’s all wrong. I will fight for it, and I’m sure others out there will actually help about not banning this procedure,” she said.
She says as Islam continues to grow more and more people will want their meat killed according to their beliefs.