In the ongoing saga of food label reform, it seems that proponents of new labelling conventions have gained valuable ground in recent months. One of the newest reform proposals to be introduced within the UK involves the addition of a “stun” or “no stun” label, designed to provide consumers with additional information regarding the method by which the meat they are eating was initially slaughtered.
Although the use or exclusion of a stun device during the slaughtering process has little impact on the meat itself, the issue is particularly important to consumers of halal and shechita consumers, who are very strict in their beliefs as to how meat must be prepared prior to consumption.
Although numerous studies have pointed to the fact that the halal method of meat preparation involves significantly more pain and suffering for the animals in question, there is no question in anyone’s minds that these practices will be allowed to continue in order to appease those for whom the practice is of extreme religious importance. That being said, these new labelling conventions are only now being proposed and considered by policy makers, and it is uncertain as to how far these debates will get before being either championed or overturned entirely.
Due to the fact that the term “stun” carries a very clear definition, at least within the European Union, those seeking a compromise between more exhaustive food labels detailing execution methods and no labels at all may find the “stun” or “no stun” definition to be more than adequate. As discussion continues to grow around the “Stun / No Stun” label debate, other activists are demanding a revision of the stunning procedure, claiming that mis-stunning occurs on an all too frequent basis and often results in pain and suffering for animals.
Although many proponents of halal meat are passionate about the slaughtering methods of the animals they consume, an equal number of more secular advocates are pushing for the use of these labels to deter consumers from purchasing non-stunned meat. According to a recent survey, 94% of the UK’s practicing veterinarians believe that consumers should be more informed about the methods used to kill the animals they eat, if only so that they can stamp out support for non-stunned meat production.