Ritual slaughter without stunning

Although the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019, other requirements will be introduced in 2020 and 2021 based on food commodity, type of activity and business size. For more information, refer to the SFCR timelines.


The restraint of the food animal, the ritual cut and the post-cut management, must all be done in a manner to prevent unnecessary pain and distress to the food animal during ritual slaughter, without stunning, since the time to reach unconsciousness without prior stunning can be variable between food animal species and even between individuals within a species. The outcome is for the food animal to achieve unconsciousness as rapidly as possible.

What this means for your food business

To help you understand these requirements, specific criteria and examples are outlined below. The examples are not exhaustive but help illustrate the intent of the requirement and offer ideas on what you could do to comply. Key terms throughout the text have been hyperlinked to the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) glossary.

Subsection 144 (a) Restraint of the food animal for ritual slaughter

  • You ensure that the restraint of the food animal does not cause the food animal any avoidable suffering, injury or pain, while at the same time it results in optimal control of movement of the animal, in order that the ritual cut can be performed as competently and rapidly as possible by the ritual slaughterer.


Subsections 144 (b) Requirements for the ritual knife cut

  • The ritual slaughterer must know how to perform the ritual cut correctly to achieve death as rapidly as possible from exsanguination
  • The ritual cut is a single fluid, uninterrupted cut of the neck
  • In large bovines this single cut may include a continuous, rapidly executed back and forth movement as long as the movement was uninterrupted in its execution
  • Both carotid arteries and jugular veins must be cut at the same time to best achieve the outcome of a massive blood flow and quick onset of unconsciousness leading to death
  • The knife can never be lifted off of the animal and it can never be reintroduced for another cut or stroke in order to avoid any sawing or multiple cutting movements of the knife in the neck


Subsections 144 (c) Bleeding requirements for the food animal ritually cut without stunning

  • The outcome must be a rapid loss of consciousness evidenced by collapse and rolling of the eyes in the food animal that is in the upright position, which then must lead to a rapid onset of irreversible unconsciousness and death.
  • You must have performance criteria, and monitoring procedures in place to ensure you achieve this outcome.
  • You must have a corrective action procedure in the event your performance criteria are not met.
  • You must ensure the food animal is dead before any further dressing procedures are conducted.


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