David Cameron does not support the compulsory labelling of halal meat products, according to a statement from Downing Street.
After media reports that ritually-slaughtered meat, notably New Zealand lamb, is being sold in supermarkets unbeknown to consumers, there have been calls for more labelling to reflect its method of slaughter.
However Downing Street said that David Cameron did not support this. A spokesperson from the Prime Minister’s press office said: “The greater the transparency the better and we think we can achieve this transparency without necessarily having a full-on national food labelling scheme.
“Instead we believe this will be dealt with by restaurants and businesses. We think a lot of businesses and restaurants will probably change their practices and change their labelling. We will review the situation in a few months’ time.”
The statement follows a letter written to the Telegraph by faith leaders Henry Grunwald, chairman of Shechita UK, and Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy secretary general of Muslim Council of Britain, calling for labelling to be clearer: “Comprehensive labelling should be supported by faith communities and animal welfare groups alike. It would offer all consumers genuine choice, whether they are motivated by animal welfare, religious observance, or even intolerance of anyone who looks or worships differently to them.”
Elsewhere, Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, said that he had pushed for compulsory labelling of kosher and halal meat two years ago, but the bill he tried to introduce was defeated. “As usual I was ahead of my time because you will appreciate there is widespread concern about the use of halal and kosher meat that is not labelled amongst retailers,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg also said there should be more information on meat packaging. Speaking on LBC radio he told listeners that telling customers if meat is halal or not would be “relatively straightforward”.