MEPs vote for compulsory halal and kosher labels

Meat from slaughter without stunning will now be labelled as such following a vote in the European Parliament.

The rule change will affect UK halal and kosher meat suppliers where MEPs decided that meat from non-stunned animals will now have to be mentioned on the label.

MEPs voted by 559 to 54 for the compulsory measure where the regulation would alert consumers to supplies entering the food system. Both Veterinary bodies and halal meat industry insiders have welcomed the decision on clearer labelling but with some misgivings.

Halal consumer group behalal spokesperson Ruksana Mumtaz said: “We welcome labelling as it assists the consumer but we’re concerned that this is yet another attack on the Muslim and Jewish religious practises.

“Both faiths require that the slaughter is humanly carried out to cause minimum distress and suffering to the animal. If the EU and others are genuinely concerned about animal welfare then labelling should be consistently applied to show all types of slaughter methods to allow the consumer to make an informed choice.”

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has welcomed the vote for which it believes all animals should be effectively stunned before slaughter.

Professor Bill Reilly, BVA president, said: “This is a huge step forward in improving the welfare of animals at slaughter. The more consumers understand these issues, the more consumer power can make a difference.”

“Currently there are too many different labels that mean different things, which can be confusing for shoppers. One higher welfare label would go a long way to improving consumer choice and animal welfare.”

Eblex Steering Group member Naved Syed added: "This this the first time Brussels has made common sense and made a decision that is agreeable to me. Clearer labelling is giving the Muslim community a choice. With product labelled correctly, both community and business can move forward and the labelling will mean animal welfare is paramount which is important in the Muslim community."

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