06/03/2014 02:56 GMT | Updated 06/03/2014 03:59 GMT

Reform Halal And Kosher? Britain's Top Vet, John Blackwell, Calls For End To Ritual Slaughter

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BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 26: (EDITOR'S NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT) Chickens hang upside-down on a delivery belt after being slaughtered at a chicken processing factory on October 26, 2006 in Beijing. Authorities in the Chinese capital checked poultry and bird markets, demanding all live poultry on sale have certificates proving they come from areas not infected by bird flu. China reported the third bird flu outbreak this week. (Photo by Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

The new leader of Britain's vets has called for the religious slaughter of animals for halal and kosher meat to be banned.

Religious customs associated with slaughtering animals should be adapted to take in more humane methods of killing, John Blackwell, president-elect of the British Veterinary Association has said.

The religious slaughter of poultry, sheep and cattle causes unnecessary suffering to animals, he said in an emotive appeal.

Traditionally, Jewish and Islamic slaughter practices involve animals having their throats slit and the blood drained. But Mr Blackwell has suggested stunning the animals so that they are unconscious before the fatal cut is made.

In an interview with the Times, Mr Blackwell said British abattoirs could follow the example of the Danish meat industry, which bans the slaughter of animals which are not stunned prior to death.

He said: "The Danish unilateral banning [was done] purely for animal welfare reasons, which is right. We may well have to go down that route."

Mr Blackwell said the way halal and kosher meat is created, through the throat being slit, resulted in "five or six seconds" of pain for the animal.

"They will feel the cut," he said.

"They will feel the massive injury of the tissues of the neck. They will perceive the aspiration of blood they will breath in before they lose consciousness."

Discussing a Jewish politician's concerns that the call for reform showed a "continuing undercurrent of anti-Semitism," Mr Blackwell said "that's very emotive isn't it? That's the difficulty with engagement."

He told the newspaper the issue was "one of the most important on our (vets') radar."