Polish government drafts regulations to allow ritual slaughter

(JTA) — The Polish government has drafted regulations to reduce animals’ suffering but still allow ritual slaughter.

In a statement Tuesday, Polish Prime Minster Donald Tusk said the new regulations, which must be passed in parliament, may require the introduction of rotating cages in which the animal is placed before its throat is cut, according to a report by Polskie Radio.

Poland’s Agriculture Ministry has said it will work to enshrine ritual slaughter in Polish legislation designed to streamline the way that Polish procedures correspond with European Union rules that went into effect in January. The EU has said individual countries will have discretion on whether to allow or ban ritual slaughter — kosher slaughter is known as shechitah.

Last year, on a motion from animal rights groups, a special court said that regulations allowing slaughter without prior stunning – as is required in the Muslim and Jewish faiths — were unconstitutional.

The Jewish community and some legal experts say kosher slaughter remains protected by another law, the 1997 Act on the Relation of the State to the Jewish Communities in Poland, which states that ritual slaughter may be performed in accordance with the needs of the local Jewish community.

In his statement, Tusk is also quoted as saying the reason for allowing ritual slaughter is connected to economic motivations, among other things. Poland’s halal and kosher slaughter business is estimated to be worth $250 million annually, mainly owing to exports.

Tusk added the restrictions will make slaughter in Polish butcheries stricter on animal welfare than other EU member states.

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