The Dutch parliament is to be congratulated for its ban on religious (halal and kosher) slaughter of livestock. This practice involves cutting the animal’s throat without prior stunning in the mistaken belief that this allows all the bacteria in the animal’s blood to flow out of the body, thus making the meat healthier. The problem with this superstitious nonsense is that the blood of a healthy animal contains no bacteria. When bacteria are present in the blood, a condition termed bacteraemia; the animal will be very sick indeed and unlikely to be submitted for slaughter. The second concern rests with animal welfare considerations and the humaneness of this procedure. While it is theoretically possible to kill a sheep reasonably quickly by cutting its throat this is not the case for cattle. Cattle have an additional blood vessel within their spinal column which continues to deliver blood to the brain after the throat has been cut. Consequently cattle do not lose consciousness from a drop in blood pressure nearly as quickly as sheep do. Unfortunately the various religious groups who are affected by this ban conveniently ignore the animal welfare reasons and instead starting accusing animal welfare advocates of restricting their religious freedoms. I am not sure what is so special about religious freedoms that they should take precedent over animal suffering. I am perfectly happy for everyone to have their own special imaginary friend but when the dictates of that imaginary friend affect human or animal welfare it is time to draw the line and toss them in the basket with our many other discarded superstitions. As well as Holland, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland have also banned religious slaughter. I look forward to the day when science, logic and compassion take precedent over superstition throughout the world.
Dr. F. Bunny