A campaign to ban non-stun Halal meat being served to schoolchildren in Kirklees, West Yorkshire, is gathering traction, and could be rolled out nationally.
Kirklees councillor, Lisa Holmes is supporting a petition which calls for a ban on the meat, after she discovered it was being served to pupils across Kirklees. In less than 48 hours, the petition gained the 3,000 signatures it needs to prompt a full council debate.
A Freedom of Information request by the National Secular Society found Kirklees Council supplied the meat to 42 schools. Of these, 16 offered no meat alternative.
The society’s figures showed 17 councils supplied schools with unstunned halal meat, with Luton Council supplying it to 21 school s and Bolton and Leicester to 17 each.
The petition read: "We the undersigned call on Kirklees Council to uphold animal welfare standards and only supply meat from animals that were stunned before slaughter."
Coun Holmes said while she did not object to halal meat being served in schools, she and many of the children’s parents objected to non-stun slaughter of meat on animal welfare grounds.
"I hope my council colleagues, of all political parties, will support me on this."
Ms Holmes said she hoped Kirklees would follow Lancashire County Council, which has stopped supplying unstunned beef and lamb to 27 schools.
"In addition to only supplying pre stunned halal meat in our schools, we must also offer an alternative meat option to children who choose not to eat Halal meat. It is completely unacceptable to just tell them they can have the vegetarian or fish options," added Coun Holmes.
"For some children in my constituency this is their only proper meal of the day.”
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and RSCA have been campaigning for an end to non-stun slaughter, but the Government has been reluctant to change the law.
EU law requires animals to be stunned to avoid unnecessary suffering at the point of death but there is a derogation for Muslim and Jewish communities.
The BVA said post-cut stunning offered a valid means of reducing the suffering of animals at slaughter if Government policy remained unchanged.
About 84 per cent of animals slaughtered in the UK by the halal method are pre-stunned.