Shoppers will finally be told how the meat they are buying was killed after a European Commission review, potentially ending years of concern over Halal slaughter.
Environment Minister George Eustice has given the clearest signal yet that meat products will require some kind of labelling indicating the method of slaughter, the Telegraph reports.
There has been a growing campaign for products to be labelled ‘halal’ or ‘kosher’ indicating the religious methods of slaughtering food which have been questioned by the British Veterinary Association.
The move comes after it was confirmed that soldiers based in the UK and overseas were being served halal food – because it is easier to bulk purchase this type of meat and it is usually only certain religious groups who demand their meat is killed according to historic religious guidelines pre the discovery of electricity.
The MoD said “Troops can ask at the serving point if the food that is being served is halal. There is always an alternative option.”
“Our policy is in line with current UK legislation and Government guidelines and while there is no requirement for menus to state that a dish may or may not contain halal produce, service personnel with special dietary requirements are fully informed as to which dishes are suitable for them to eat.”
Diners at high street chain Pizza Express were upset to find that they had been unknowingly served halal chicken although the company said that customers who asked would always be told that it was halal approved.
In Early 2015 the European Commission is due to report on whether meat sold in the Common Market area should bear labels detailing how the animal was slaughtered.
Mr Eustice looked to rule out ‘halal’ and ‘kosher’ to avoid upsetting some Muslims and Jews who have raised objections and instead the products could be sold as ‘stunned’ or ‘unstunned’.
In both practises, Zabiha and Shechita, the animals are not stunned prior to having their throats slit. They say the method kills animals instantly but the BVA have disputed this and critics say this harms the welfare of animals.
Mr Eustice said from the EU perspective, ‘stunned’ has a clear legal definition in the legislation, and it is simply that an animal is rendered insensible to pain almost immediately.
“That is a clear definition and the scientific evidence does not support the argument that a cut without prior stunning achieves that. In addition, it would be complicated to list all the different methods of slaughter and … I am not sure that there would be a huge consumer appetite for us to try to differentiate between all the different methods of slaughter.”
Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society called the move “a clever way” to get round the problems of complaints raised by religious minotirites.
“Some kind of compromise has potentially been reached” he told Breitbart London. “It is quite a clever way to get round these objections because it takes religions out of the labelling of meat.”
“People will be allowed to make a choice, particularly those who want their meat to be slaughtered in a humane way and it takes the arguments away from the Muslims and the Jews.”
“In the end, we can vote with our feet and not buy un-stunned meat but the ideal solution would be to say we can’t kill them in this way.”
The author of this article is a smug vegetarian