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Religious Slaughter: Data from Surveys and Spot-Check Visits in Italy and Animal Welfare Issues

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Abstract The public is becoming increasingly concerned about how nonhuman animals are treated, and many studies show that European citizens are concerned about farm animal welfare. Religious slaughter has always been a controversial and emotive subject, caught between animal welfare considerations, cultural and human rights issues. There is considerable variation in current practices, and the rules regarding religious requirements are still confusing. Similarly, consumer demands and concerns also need to be addressed. Therefore, there is a need for information relating to slaughter techniques as well as product range, consumer expectations, market share, and socioeconomic issues. This research aims at identifying the procedures for current methods of religious slaughter in Italy. Conventional slaughter is performed with prior stunning; kosher slaughter is practiced without stunning. Halal slaughter is performed for most of the animals without stunning. Halal slaughter with prior stunning is accepted for 5.9% of small ruminants. Questionnaires were sent to regional health authorities, and spot-check visits were conducted on cattle, sheep, and poultry abattoirs in Italy from October 2008 to March 2009. The observed parameters are discussed in regards to the risk to animal welfare. Observations not only on restraining methods, but also on post-cut, clinical indicators of consciousness are considered. This research is the first, systematic attempt to analyze the methods of religious slaughter and to discuss the implications for animal welfare.


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