"He has only forbidden you dead meat and blood, and the flesh of swine and that on which any other name has been invoked besides that of God." (The Koran, 2:173)
Muslim religious law requires, among other things, that an animal must be drained of blood before it is halal - permissible for consumption. Ritual slaughter according to Jewish dietary law - shechita - has the same prescription. Most Muslim slaughterers believe that drainage will only be complete if the throat of the animal is slit without stunning it first, but now Haluk Anil of the University of Bristol, UK, and colleagues have shown that the amount of blood drained from the animal, and the rate of blood loss, is the same regardless of whether or not it is stunned first.
Anil's team have already shown that stunning does not affect "bleed-out" in sheep. Now they have done the same thing in cattle. They measured the bleed-out in 13 cattle killed by the tradition Muslim method, and 13 killed in the same way, but having first been stunned by a captive-bolt-pistol blow to the head (Animal Welfare, vol 15, p 325).
"Stunning does not impede blood loss, therefore this objection cannot be used any more," says Anil, who is coordinating a European Union project to examine legislation and welfare issues related to religious slaughter, both shechita and halal.