Vet outraged by ritually slaughtered meat served at National Conference.
The Australian Veterinary Conference was held at the National Convention Centre in Canberra during May this year. For one vet the conference ran smoothly up to the final day, when a Muslim delegate complained that they were not able to eat the meals because they were not halal. The Management of the National Convention Centre proceeded to reassure the delegate that the National Convention Centre only served halal meat and he could have eaten the meals.
Another delegate, Veterinarian Dr. Andrew Melville-Smith from Whyalla in South Australia overheard the complaint and was listening to the response from the management. He said his initial reaction was to feel sorry for the delegate as he was sure the National Convention Centre would have catered for his religious dietary requirements, if they had known he was attending.
Dr. Melville-Smith said the response from the management of the National Convention Centre left him in a state of shock. “When I heard that I had been served with ritually slaughtered meat (halal), without the food being labelled or being informed that I would be served with halal meat.”Â Â He said
“I was very annoyed. Â For me, it spoilt the conference experience.Â The National Convention Centre proudly advertises “cage free” eggs, organic waste recycling, donating excess food to OzHarvest but nowhere is there a mention of serving halal certified meat.
“This is a National Conference of Veterinarians whose core beliefs and concerns are for animal welfare and we are served ritually slaughtered meat.”
“It is outrageous.”
Dr. Melville-Smith said he had three areas of concern about ritually slaughtered (halal) meat. “Firstly, halal meat has nothing to doÂ with the quality of the meat, its fat content or hygiene.” He said.
“HalalÂ is about religious ritual and observance in relation to meat products.
“To beÂ halal, the Koran says an animal must have its throat slit whilst still alive and conscious (not stunned) to ensure it ‘properly’ bleeds to death.
The Australia Veterinary Associations policy (15.16) on humane slaughter of animals is:Â “Regardless of religion or cultural beliefs, animals must be humanely rendered unconsciousÂ prior to exsanguination.”
“As a veterinary surgeon, the only acceptable method of slaughtering animals for consumption as meat is immediate, irreversible stunning prior to slaughter.”
The RSPCA definition of humane killing is:Â ‘an animal must be either killed instantly or rendered insensible to pain until death supervenes’. When killing animals for food, this means they must be stunnedÂ beforeÂ slaughter so they immediately become unconscious. The RSPCA policy on ritual slaughter is clear:Â ‘slaughter without prior stunning is inhumane and completely unnecessary’.
Dr. Melville-Smith said his second concern was that halal meat required the name of Allah to be recited as the animals throat was cut. “Only a Muslim slaughterman may slit the throat of the animal and he must do so whilst facing Mecca and reciting a short prayer: “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar””. He said
“If Australians are being served halal meatÂ without their knowledge or consent, and the meat can only be slaughtered by a Muslim.
“Then this a discriminatory work practice against Australian workers
“And itÂ introduces unwelcome Islamic values and sharia law in Australia.
“The sole scientific basis for ritual slaughter is that Mohammad said it would make Allah happy.”
Dr. Melville-Smith said his final concern was with the certification of halal food. “HalalÂ certification extracts fees from companies (and that now means Australian consumers) which fund the many activities and initiatives of these Islamic organisations that control the certification.” He said
“It is totally unacceptable to impose extra costs on our food, when we are fed halal food, without our knowledge or consent.
“I, like most Australians, do notÂ subscribe to these medieval beliefs and I strongly object to intrusion of Islamic rituals into my food.
“The Muslim community makes up less than 2% of the Australian community, so any food prepared to cater to their religious requirements should be clearly labeled ‘Halal’ .
“The rest of us should be able to assume that their meat is not halal unless clearly labeled to the contrary.
“The fact that the AustralianÂ National Convention Centre in Canberra covertly fed Australian vets ritually slaughtered meat, is a disgrace.”
Press release byÂ Dr. Andrew Melville-Smith
Contact:Â 0429 094 798
The Australian Veterinary Association has been contacted about this issue and the National Communications Manager, Marcia Balzer is looking into this issue.
Phone:Â 02 9431 5060
The manager of the National Convention Centre in Canberra, Cindy Young has also been contacted about this issue and is looking into it and consulting with the RSPCA.
Phone:Â 02 6276 5201
A message to those who want to get involved: