Call for accurate labelling of religiously slaughtered meat returns to the European Parliament

Early next week, new amendments will be tabled to the EU ‘Proposal for the Provision of Food Information to Consumers’, which will call for labels on meat products to specify whether the animal was pre-stunned before it was killed. Amendments 353 and 359 call for a label which says, ‘meat from slaughter without pre-stunning’. This means that meat derived from Halal and Shechita (Kosher) methods of slaughter without pre-stunning will have to be labelled as such.

The BHA’s position is that religious slaughter without pre-stunning of animals should be banned altogether.  The regulation of methods of slaughter of animals for food is predicated on a public policy of minimising the suffering of animals – slaughtering should be humane and cause the least suffering and pain possible. Stunning is generally agreed to go some way towards this objective and is mandated by law. At present legal exemption is given for slaughter for religious reasons to provide the demand for kosher and Halal meat. This is despite the Government’s acceptance that this method causes very significant pain and distress. The BHA believes that this exemption should not be permitted, because this is not an issue about religious rights but of animal welfare.

Accurate labelling which enables the consumer to see whether the animal was pre-stunned before it was slaughtered ensures that consumers can make ethical choices.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented, ‘These proposed amendments are the latest in the ongoing campaign for accurate labelling in the EU. In 2010 the European Parliament agreed by 326 votes to 270 that meat and meat products derived from animals that have not been stunned prior to slaughter should be clearly labelled as: ‘Meat from slaughter without stunning’. Although this was rejected by the European Council, we are hoping that this time it gets through.

‘The issue of labelling is crucial because it will ensure that meat derived from non-stunned animals does not end up on the open-market, where consumers often assume that the meat has been slaughtered according to humane procedures. Scientific evidence suggests that failing to pre-stun causes the animal considerable distress, and consumers should be aware that they are buying products where the animal has died in this way.

‘We strongly encourage people to contact their MEPs and urge them to support European-wide regulations that will compel producers to label accurately meat derived from ritually slaughtered meat. The BHA will also be writing again to the government to encourage it to support the regulation approved by the European Parliament.’

Notes

PLEASE EMAIL YOUR MEP AND ASK THEM TO SUPPORT THESE AMENDMENTS

Read more about the BHA’s work on ritual slaughter

Read amendments 353 and 359 of the Proposal for the Provision of Food Information to Consumers

For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on [email protected] or 020 7079 3585.

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.