Shechita UK Gears up for Renewed Labelling Fight

Apr 21, 2011

The Environmental and Consumer Affairs Committee of the European Parliament this week voted through an amendment to a new EU food-labelling bill that would require meat not stunned before slaughter to be labelled on food packaging, “unstunned before slaughter”. (Conventional slaughter methods require pre-stunning procedures which are less efficient than the integral stun of the Shechita process and utilise the default (and flawed) methods of gassing, electrocution and captive-bolt shot to the head.)

The amendment was carried by a slim majority of just six votes (34 to 28). Following intensive lobbying by Shechita UK, several of the main groups had allowed a free vote, but the amendment was carried on the back of Socialist votes, led by the Socialist group’s UK Labour party MEPs.

The regulation on the provision of food information to consumers will now be voted on by the entire Parliament at second reading in July. Last year the same amendment was carried at first reading by a majority of 56 in the European Parliament.

“The fight to stop this amendment is far from over,” insisted Henry Grunwald, Chairman 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.”

“We have communicated our position to the European Council who rejected the amendment after the first reading and thus we are hopeful that the Council will again reject the Parliament’s position in negotiations which will begin informally in May,” added Mr Grunwald.

Shechita UK will be coordinating its activities with those of the European Jewish Congress in the coming months. With less than one in ten MEPs coming from the UK, the outcome will be determined by the votes of MEPs from the other 26 Member States of the European Union.