Jewish leaders criticized plans to require special labelling for Kosher or Halal meat in Britain, saying that the proposal was “behind the curve” and could be misleading to consumers.
The British Labour Party earlier announced its support for a plan to require all meat sold in the UK be clearly marked, letting consumers know whether or not the animal was stunned before it was slaughtered.
Traditional slaughtering techniques, used by both Jews and Muslims for Kosher and Halal meat, are incompatible with the stunning methods required in many European countries.
Labour's manifesto on animal welfare states it will seek “mandatory labeling of meat, both domestic and imported. This would include details on country of origin, method of production and method of slaughter (stun or non-stun).”
On Thursday, Britain’s “Shechita UK” organization, which includes representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and members of British Kashrut boards, expressed its opposition to the Labour proposal, calling it “behind the curve” and warning that in its present form, the regulation could lead to confusion among consumers.
Reacting to the Labour Party’s proposal that all meat should be labelled ‘stunned/ non-stunned’, Shimon Cohen, Shechita UK’s Campaign Director, has issued the following statement:
“It is unfortunate that the Labour Party’s proposal regarding meat labelling is behind the curve,” said Shechita UK campaign director Shimon Cohen.
“Informed circles have now moved this discussion on to comprehensive method of slaughter labelling which would ensure that consumers know whether their meat has been killed by captive bolt shooting, gassing, electrocution by tongs or water, or any of the other approved methods.”
“It is neither correct nor sufficient for meat to be labelled as ‘stunned’ or ‘non-stunned’ as we must be careful not to mislead the consumer into believing that mechanical stunning is a kind medicinal process, gently sending the animal into a woozy state of unconsciousness. Mechanical stunning is an aggressive, invasive procedure which many object to.”
Cohen added that Shechita UK welcomed alternative reforms which would clearly distinguish meat by the method of slaughter used, and not merely by whether some form of stunning was used.
“Comprehensive method of slaughter labelling is welcomed by religious communities and animal welfare groups alike and we would urge the Labour Party to urgently review their policy.”