Background and legislation
EU law requires farm animals to be stunned before slaughter. However, there is an exception for religious slaughter. Meat from animals slaughtered without stunning (through the Shechita method and some Halal methods) currently enters the mainstream food chain without being labelled, leaving consumers without their right to make an informed choice on animal welfare grounds.
Currently slaughter without prior stunning has been banned in Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Sweden and a ban is currently under judicial review in New Zealand. Finland, Denmark and Austria require stunning immediately after the incision if the animal has not been stunned before.
Although some religious slaughter practices do not allow pre-stunning, others do. For example all of the lamb imported to the UK from New Zealand is Halal but it has also been pre-stunned.