A famous veterinarian has stated that slaughtering without stunning the animal is just not acceptable.

Bill Reilly, an ex-president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA) said that in several countries animals are killed without making them unconscious; it is done to fulfil the nutritional requirements of Jews and Muslims.

"Judaism and Islam believe that animals are creatures of God; science tells us that they are sentient beings, who can suffer," the BBC quoted Joyce D'Silva, from the charity Compassion in World Farming (CWF) as saying. "If you hold either view, or both, then your principal concern must be to ensure the least possible suffering for the animal concerned. Therefore animals should be handled with care and stunned effectively before their throats are cut in order to minimise their distress and pain."

Major countries in the UK and the EU have allowed ritual slaughter, where livestock is slaughtered for ritual purposes. Reilly found that only a few animals were killed in the name of religion whereas several animals are killed without stunning just for consumption purpose.

"It is important to differentiate between 'religious' and 'non-stun' slaughter. My concern has nothing to do with the expression of religious belief but with the practice of killing by throat cutting without pre-stunning. UK and EU legislation gives derogation for non-stun slaughter for the Jews and Muslims food with the overriding principle of 'without the affliction of unnecessary suffering'," the BMJ quoted Bill Reilly as saying.

Contradicting Reilly, the Food Standards Agency said that very few animals are killed without stunning.

The agency conducted a study which found that only 3 per cent of cattle, 10 per cent of goats and sheep and 4 per cent of poultry are killed without stunning.

"The results indicate that the number of animals not stunned prior to slaughter is relatively low, accounting for 3 per cent of cattle, 10 per cent of sheep and goats, and 4 per cent of poultry. They also show that the majority of animals destined for the halal trade in both the red and white meat sectors are stunned before slaughter," the BBC quoted a Food Standards Agency spokesman as saying.