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BHA expresses disappointment as EU food labelling proposals dropped

Plans for meat derived from animals that have not been stunned prior to slaughter to be labelled as such were dropped yesterday by the European Union’s Council of Ministers. The plans were initially approved  by the European Parliament in June, through the adoption of Amendment 205 of the Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the provision of food information to consumers, and were supported by the BHA and other organisations such as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the British Veterinary Association.

However the plans were opposed by some religious groups who argued that non-stunned meat would become commercially unviable. In November Shechita UK secured conditional opposition from the UK Government. The plans have now been dropped.

It is an offence in the UK to cause an animal avoidable pain or suffering in the slaughtering process, however there are provisions within the law to permit such slaughter in order meet the religious requirements of Jews and Muslims. These plans would have simply required non-stunned meat to be labelled as such.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented, ‘The real issue is not about protecting religious freedoms – other countries, for example in Spain, require all their meat to be pre-stunned, but still have meat labelled as halal and kosher – but is about helping consumers make informed decisions. Research has consistently demonstrated that the methods of ritual slaughter without stunning cause protracted periods of pain. Accurately labelling meat that has been slaughtered enables the consumer to take a fully informed, ethical decision about the products available.’

The British Humanist Association encouraged its members to contact their MEPs in support of the proposals, resulting in hundreds of letters being sent. Ms Phillips added, ‘The BHA will continue to campaign on this issue, to gain the support of the UK Government and with the hope that the proposals are reintroduced through another amendment when the related bill returns to the European Parliament next year.’

Notes

For further comment or information contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585.

Read the EU press release on the labelling bill, which does not mention the proposals on non-stunned meat.

Read more about the BHA’s work on ritual slaughter.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief. It exists to support and represent people who seek to live good and responsible lives without religious or superstitious beliefs.

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