Transparent labelling needed for meat slaughter

meatMany people will have heard the news today that some supermarkets are using halal meat without informing consumers. The majority of halal meat is pre-stunned before slaughter, but a small minority of halal, and a majority of kosher meat, is not pre-stunned. Whilst it is important that Muslim communities have access to halal meat, and Jewish communities can purchase meat slaughtered in the Shechita method, consumers must be given the choice.

It is widely agreed that pre-stunning animals before slaughter is the most humane option, which is why under EU law all meat must be pre-stunned. However the law gives countries the option to allow slaughter without stunning for religious reasons, which we do in the UK. Labour MEPs fully support this exemption, but we have to be transparent about what meat is being used.

For many years I have been fighting for honest food labelling, and when taking part in negotiations on EU labelling rules, I supported amendments to label meat which is not pre-stunned before slaughter. Whilst the vast majority of MEPs supported this position, the UK and other EU governments refused to agree.

We did manage to convince the European Commission to address this issue under animal welfare laws, and we are still waiting for action. After the European election it will be one of my priorities to get legislation in place for clear labelling. I would like to see all meat labelled, using either ‘pre-stunned’ or ‘not pre-stunned’. This will avoid singling out any type of meat, but give animal welfare conscious consumers the information they need.

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