"I think it has been a breakthrough vote once again for people who consider animal welfare as a very high priority, and this is why we put these amendments down in a food information regulation. It is essential the public knows what they are buying. And if they are buying meat from animals that has been slaughtered by the halal or shechita method then they should know that. They have a right to know and see on the label that the animal was not pre-stunned before slaughter.”
MEPs Back Meat Labelling Plan
by Justin Cohen • Totally Jewish
A European Parliament committee has backed a proposal for meat to be labelled as "from slaughter without stunning".
In a major blow for shechita activists who continued campaigning against the move until hours before Pesach, the controversial amendment to the European food information regulations was passed by 34 votes to 28 when it came before the environment, public health and food safety committee on Tuesday.
It is the same measure that was struck out by the Council of Ministers last year following a concerted campaign in which Shechita UK played a prominent role. But the proposal was re-tabled in March.
Shechita UK has always maintained that the amendment discriminates against kosher meat. And it is feared such a move, if passed into law later this year, would lead to a massive hike in kosher prices as the vast majority of shechita meat goes to non-kosher consumers who may decide to opt for products without labels. The practise could then eventually become untenable.
London MEP Marina Yannakoudakis, who opposed the amendment, said: "I was very disappointed in the vote. I can understand that people are concerned about methods of slaughter, but this is not the platform on which to discuss it. Animal welfare needs to be debated in its own right and including it in this Directive puts one group at a disadvantage. I will continue to campaign for the withdrawal of this amendment at plenary."
The Conservative politician added: "We plan to bring it up at our group meeting and try to get a group line on it, so the European Conservatives and Reformists can vote against the amendment as a group."
While Shechita UK has yet to respond to this week's vote because of Pesach, its campaign is now likely to focus on the next stage of the legislative process - a plenary of the European Parliament - this summer. Julie Girling, another British Conservative MEP who voted against the amendment, expressed disappointment at its success.
But she added: "The vote was quite close so it is possible that it will not be successful in the plenary vote. If the amendment passes through plenary it will still have to be agreed by Council so there’s a long way to go."
Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson, who backed the amendment,, said: "There is every possibility that the European Council of Ministers may once again try to reject what the Parliament has asked for.
"However, because we are at second reading it is the last chance saloon for the Council and it means they have to find the compromise with the parliament and with the European commission."
He added" "I think it has been a breakthrough vote once again for people who consider animal welfare as a very high priority, and this is why we put these amendments down in a food information regulation. It is essential the public knows what they are buying.
"And if they are buying meat from animals that has been slaughtered by the halal or shechita method then they should know that. They have a right to know and see on the label that the animal was not pre-stunned before slaughter.”
Shechita UK maintains that shechita is a humane method of slaughter.