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Religious Slaughter Discussion Paper Released

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) has released a discussion paper on religious slaughter.

The paper is open for public comment to assist NAWAC in writing a draft code of welfare for the commercial slaughter of animals. The code will consider the minimum welfare standards that should apply to religious slaughter.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that animals must be killed in such a manner that they do not suffer unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress. Currently the welfare of stock at slaughter is addressed by the Slaughter of Stock, Game and Poultry Regulations 1969, which were made under the Meat Act 1964. These regulations remain in place until replaced by a new code of welfare (under the Animal Welfare Act) relating to the commercial slaughter of animals. With one exception the current regulations require all animals to be stunned before slaughter. The exception applies to slaughter carried out for religious purposes. Two voluntary agreements are currently in place for halal and kosher slaughter.

The halal agreement involves pre-stunning which means that it meets the general standard. Kosher slaughter does not involve pre-stunning but the Jewish community has agreed to a post-stun for cattle, which take a longer time to become insensible than sheep.

Codes of welfare set out details relating to the obligations of the Act, in particular setting minimum standards. The Animal Welfare Act allows for standards to be made in certain circumstances, which depart from the purpose of the Act. These circumstances include meeting the requirements of religious practices.

Copies of the discussion paper are available from the MAF website ( or from the NAWAC Secretary, PO Box 2526, Wellington, phone 04 474 4296 or fax 04 498 9888 Submissions close 1 June 2001.

For further information contact Professor David Mellor, Chairperson NAWAC, Tel (06) 350-4807 or Wayne Ricketts, National Adviser Animal Welfare, MAF Biosecurity Authority, Tel (04) 474-4276.

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