The inside of a Halal slaughterhousePA
Shocking footage has emerged of inside a Halal slaughterhouse
The incident, which is in direct contravention of Islamic practice, was one of many allegedly captured by hidden cameras at an abattoir.
Other footage is claimed to show sheep being kicked in the face by staff and a worker standing on the neck of a conscious animal.
The hidden cameras also apparently caught staff laughing at a sheep bleeding to death and slaughtermen taunting and frightening animals by waving knives.
The footage, taken at the Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk in North Yorkshire, resulted in four slaughtermen haing their operating licences suspended.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have launched an investigation into the footage and said there was “no excuse for treating animals in the way shown on the video”.
They added that prosecutions could follow after animal rights group Animal Aid recorded the footage in December.
A sheep being killed at a Halal slaughterhousePA
Spy cameras caught sheep having their throats hacked with saws
The vicious attacks on defenceless, frightened animals at Bowood are inexcusable
Kate Fowler – head of campaigns at Animal Aid
Kate Fowler, head of campaigns at Animal Aid, said the scenes from the Halal slaughterhouse were “inexcusable”.
She said: “The vicious attacks on defenceless, frightened animals at Bowood are inexcusable.
“All four conveyor operators we filmed over three days abused animals to varying degrees, while the slaughterers looked on unmoved.”
A leading Muslim group described the footage as “abhorrent” and claimed the incident raises “urgent questions”.
A Muslim Council of Britain spokesman said: “Animal cruelty is wrong and criminal wherever it may occur. That it is being carried out in halal slaughter makes it even more incredulous. Animal welfare should be observed by all slaughterhouses.
“The findings certainly are abhorrent in Islamic practice, and the abattoir must be subject to the full force of the law. In the past, Animal Aid has reported on similar abuses taking place at non-religious UK slaughterhouses.
“There are urgent questions this case raises: since each abattoir is under veterinarian supervision, how were these practices overlooked?
“We call on the Food Standards Agency to look into this abuse and the flagrant disregard of the very principles of humane slaughter as a matter of urgency.
“These revelations will undermine Muslim consumer trust. It is now of paramount importance, as the Muslim Council of Britain has said repeatedly in the past, to work towards a national set of agreed standards and accreditation in halal methods of slaughter that abides by established Islamic precepts.
“We also believe, to increase trust for the consumers, that the use of CCTV cameras in abattoirs should be seriously considered.”
A sheep being slaughtered at a Halal slaughterhousePA
A number of the incidents were in direct contravention of Islamic practice
UK law requires abattoirs to stun animals before slaughter to prevent unnecessary suffering.
However, there are exemptions for Jewish and Muslim producers.
Under the Halal code, animals are supposed to be killed quickly with a single sweep of a surgically-sharp knife.
They should not see the knife before they are slaughtered or witness the death of other animals.
However, the video footage appears to show that these rules were routinely flouted at Bowood where more than 4,000 sheep were filmed being killed.
Sheep appeared to have knives sharpened in front of them and watched fellow animals bleeding to death before being shackled and hoisted.
Animals can apparently be seen having their throats hacked and sawed by a slaughterman wearing the traditional Muslim kufi skullcap in the clip.
The workers are heard muttering the words Allahu Akbar (God is great) as they slaughtered the animals.
Under UK law slaughtered animals that have not been stunned must not be moved for at least 20 seconds after their throats are cut.
This to ensure loss of consciousness but 86 per cent of the sheep at Bowood were moved before that amount of time had elapsed, according to Animal Aid.
Four slaughterhouse workers were seen in the footagePA
Four slaughterhouse workers had their licences suspended
Although Government-appointed vets are supposed to be on hand in all abattoirs the size of Bowood none were seen during filming.
Equally shocking welfare breaches had been uncovered at other secretly-filmed slaughterhouses where animals were stunned.
Ms Fowler added: “This is the 10th slaughterhouse in which we have filmed undercover, and it is the ninth to be caught breaking animal welfare laws.
“None of the abuses we uncovered would have come to light without our cameras being in place, even though there is a Government-appointed vet at each slaughterhouse.”
A worker at the Bowood Lamb abattoirPA
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have launched an investigation into the footage
The group is calling for independently monitored CCTV cameras to be compulsory at slaughterhouses.
A petition aimed at triggering a parliamentary debate on the issue has already collected more than 80,000 of the 100,000 signatures needed.
It has received the backing of celebrities including comedian Ricky Gervais, actress Sadie Frost, and Queen guitarist Brian May.
In a statement the FSA said: “The Food Standards Agency takes animal welfare at abattoirs very seriously which is why we immediately suspended the licences of the slaughtermen involved.
“There is no excuse for treating animals in the way shown on the video and we are therefore investigating the footage with a view to prosecution.
“We are also continuing to investigate all the circumstances around the incident to ensure proper safeguards are introduced to stop this happening in the future.”
William Woodward, one of the abattoir’s directors, added: “We have no comment to make.”