The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has launched an e-petition to end non-stun slaughter.

European and U.K. legislation require all animals to be stunned before slaughter to render them insensible to pain. However, a derogation in the legislation allows animals to be slaughtered without stunning for certain religious communities – Dhabihah slaughter for Halal food and Shechita slaughter for Kosher food. It is important to note that more than 80 percent of Halal in the U.K. is pre-stunned, the British Veterinary Association notes.

The BVA says that scientific evidence shows that slaughter without pre-stunning compromises animal welfare. This is a position supported by the Humane Slaughter Association, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, and the Federation of Veterinarians in Europe.

The association is further concerned that meat from non-stun slaughter is entering the market unlabeled because there is no requirement to label meat and meat products with the method of slaughter.

It hopes to achieve 100,000 signatures for the e-petition so that consideration will be given to a debate in the U.K.’s lower chamber.

Launching the e-petition, BVA president and veterinary surgeon Robin Hargreaves said: “BVA has long believed that slaughter without pre-stunning unnecessarily compromises animal welfare at the time of death. It affects millions of animals every year, and action is long overdue.

“When the issue hit the headlines recently we were overwhelmed by the letters of support from members of the public as well as from our own members, so we hope to get a lot of support for our campaign.”