Halal slaughter is practiced in Marsa abattoir but all animals are stunned

Reacting to Imam Muhammed El Sadi's call for animals to be slaughtered through the halal ritual, the public abattoir says this is already practiced locally but animals are stunned before slaughter

The halal ritual is practiced upon request at the public abattoir in Marsa, however animals are stunned before being slaughtered in this way.

The abattoir released a statement after controversy erupted over comments made by Imam Muhammed El Sadi in a TVM interview. The Imam requested that the halal ritual be allowed to be practiced. In its strictest form, the halal method requires the animal to be conscious at the moment of slaughter.

"In the case of halal, the ritual is performed by a Muslim butcher in order to ascertain that the slaughtering carried out respects Muslim procedures... As soon as checks are carried out in terms of traceability, all animals are stunned before being slaughtered by the Public Abattoir's operatives, and this practice is carried out irrespective of whether the animal is slaughtered for general consumption or slaughtered through the halal ritual," the public abattoir said on Thursday.

The halal method of slaughtering involves using a well-sharpened knife to slit the animal's jugular. The head of the slaughtered animal is made to face the direction of Mecca. A prayer is usually uttered during the ritual. There are other rules which are not always observed, such as the animal not being slaughtered in the presence of other animals.

"The slaughtering procedures followed at the Public Abattoir are according to the highest European standards and in line with various legal obligations outlined by European regulations," a spokesperson for the Marsa abattoir said, adding that the protection of the animals at the time of killing was adhered to.

The Imam's comments caused an uproar on Monday as he suggested that the halal ritual was a matter of religious freedom and human rights and should be respected and considered. He called for permission to be granted for the practice to be carried out without the animal being stunned before the slaughter.

The abattoir said that once carcasses pass through the whole procedure on the slaughter-line, carcasses are checked by the veterinarian and individual samples are taken to the laboratory for testing.

When the tests carried out are cleared, carcasses are stamped with the Public Abattoir’s health mark. All carcasses carry a label with information for traceability purposes. Halal carcasses pass through the same procedure, but the label will be also marked as 'halal'.