A European Union food safety committee chose the first day of Passover to approve a proposal designed to steer consumers away from buying meat from animals slaughtered according to Jewish ritual by labeling it as “meat from slaughter without stunning.”
The proposal will be presented to the EU parliament in July and differs from a decision two years ago by the European Union Council of Agricultural Ministers, which officially recognized shechita – Jewish kosher slaughter.
The new draft proposal does not restrict the sale of meat that is slaughtered according to Jewish law but highlights the lack of stunning, which animal rights activists claim is a more humane method for killing animals.
Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, Deputy Director of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe (RCE), decried the timing of the vote with the first day of the Passover holiday and vowed to convince EU legislators to defeat the proposal, the European Jewish Press reported.
"It is inconceivable that members of the European Parliament, representing Jewish communities across Europe, could not have chosen another day to vote on such a tendentious issue that gravely affects European Jewry," Rabbi Goldberg said.
"The laws themselves appear to discriminate against the Jewish community as no other method of slaughter will be mentioned.
"However, just as we learn in the Passover story that the Jewish people will overcome adversity, so we will overcome this as well and the RCE will use all its efforts to defeat this when it comes for the official vote."
The draft legislation, if adopted, could lead to a massive drop in non-Jewish sales and a subsequent substantial rise in the price of kosher meat. Many non-Jews consider kosher food, including meat, safer and healthier than non-kosher food and purchase it. Kosher slaughterhouses also sell non-Jewish stores the parts of the animal that are not allolwed to be eaten by observant Jews even if the animal is killed by ritual slaughter, the stoppage of which would mean a tremendous loss.
According to the RCE, the draft legislation "runs contrary to the European Union’s own guidelines, not only about freedom of religion, but also the fact that shechita has been proven to be one of the most humane ways of animal slaughter."