One of Australia’s foremost authorities on Halal slaughter techniques says the practices shown in ABC’s Four Corners program on Indonesian abattoirs have no place in Islamic law.
“As a Muslim who believes in the humane treatment of animals and as a meat scientist and a human being , it was extremely sad and disturbing to witness the images shown on Four Corners,” Dr Mohammed Lotfi from Australian Halal Food Services told Beef Central this week.
“The focal point of the Islamic slaughtering is the humane treatment of animals.”
Dr Lotfi’s company Australian Halal Food Services (AHFS) provides training and accreditation in Halal procedures to domestic and export processing plants throughout Australia and internationally.
He has a Masters degree in veterinary science from the University of Queensland, has worked as a meat scientist for the CSIRO and has overseen a vast body of research into Halal slaughtering techniques and animal welfare.
Dr Lotfi said that under Islamic slaughtering law:
• Any form of ill-treatment of animals is prohibited;
• Animals should be well-fed and watered;
• Only healthy animals can be slaughtered;
• Animals should not be slaughtered in front of one another;
• Pregnant animals should not be slaughtered;
• Calves should not be slaughtered in front of their mothers and vice versa;
• Only very sharp knives should be used for the slaughtering;
• Slaughtering should be done in one cut and as fast as possible.
“It is stressed that the animal welfare overrides any aspect of the slaughtering process,” Dr Lotfi said.
Dr Lotfi said the use of stunning as an animal welfare measure prior to slaughter was an acceptable procedure under Halal slaughtering techniques.
Halal is Arabic for “lawful” or “permissible”. It describes what is fit and proper for Muslims to eat, and is based on an interpretation of the Quran, the Muslim scripture.
Under the Australian Government Muslim Slaughter program system, non-penetrating Percussive stunning was used in the Halal slaughter of cattle for all export Muslim markets.
The use of non-penetrating Percussive stunning complied with the Halal requirement that the animal must be alive at the time of slaughter. For this to be determined the animal’s heart must be beating when it is slaughtered.
“In my opinion, due to the difference between our Australian livestock and others found around the world, the livestock organisation should ensure that proper training and proper equipment are provided to the country of destination to ensure that they adhere to the humane slaughtering of the animals.”