European Parliament bill would require kosher meat labeling


(JTA) — A European Parliament committee has approved a bill that would require meat that was not stunned before slaughter to be labeled as such. 

The amendment to the new European Union food labeling bill passed the Environmental and Consumer Affairs Committee by a vote of 34 to 28. The meat would be labeled “unstunned before slaughter.”

The food information bill will come before the entire European Parliament for a second reading and vote in July. The stunning amendment was previously rejected by the parliament on the bill’s first reading in December 2010.

Animals being slaughtered for kosher consumption cannot be pre-stunned, which goes against the laws of shechita, or kosher slaughter. The process is similar for some Muslim Halal meat. In non-kosher slaughterhouses, cattle are made unconscious, often by electric shock.

The organization Shechita UK lobbied European Parliament ministers to vote against the amendment and vow to continue. The organization claims that the price of kosher meat could skyrocket because the non-kosher market, which purchases 70 percent of kosher meat, might stop buying it because of the labeling. 

"The fight to stop this amendment is far from over," insisted Henry Grunwald of Shechita UK. "In recent months we have highlighted to a number of MEPs that this amendment does nothing to improve animal welfare, fails to fully inform consumers and is clearly discriminatory by design, and most have now chosen to reject it. We have received widespread support from many of the Parliamentary Groups and we will be working hard between now and July to give more MEPs a better understanding of the underlying issues."

Shechita UK said in a statement that it would coordinate its activities with the European Jewish Congress.

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