Halal and kosher slaughter

Last updated 13 October 2017

Australian law dictates that all animals must be stunned so that they are insensible to pain prior to slaughter. However, there are exemptions given to a number of abattoirs (15+ as of 2011) to meet a small demand in Australia for religious slaughter (all kosher and some halal products). 

Halal slaughter

While all commercial chicken abattoirs in Australia attempt to stun chickens prior to slaughter (including halal chicken), some halal killing of sheep, cattle and goats does not involve pre-slaughter stunning.

Halal slaughter of sheep involves the cutting of both the carotid arteries and jugular veins. If they are not completely severed, the animal is then supposed to be stunned.

Cattle are kept in an upright position with the head and body restrained. After their throats are cut, they are stunned with a captive bolt pistol. Compared to sheep, cattle have an extra blood supply to the brain through the back of the neck, so cutting their throat does not lead to unconsciousness as quickly.

Kosher slaughter

Kosher slaughter does not involve stunning. Kosher meat must be slaughtered in a particular way so as to be “fit and proper” for people of the Jewish faith to consume, and must not contain any blood. The animals must be killed by a rabbi specially trained in religious slaughter. A sharp knife is used to cut the oesophagus, the trachea, carotid arteries and jugular veins in one action. Excessive pressure on the blade is forbidden. The animal is raised so blood flows out and this is then covered with dirt. Failure to do any of these acts correctly means the animal is considered unfit to eat.