Shechita UK welcomes European Commission Study on Information to Consumers on the Stunning of Animals

Jun 1, 2015

Shechita UK has welcomed a European Commission Study on Information to Consumers on the Stunning of Animals, following its long expected release on Thursday (28th May).

Shechita UK contributed fully to the report, and their view was reflected throughout, particularly concerning the lack of consumer demand for labelling and the lack of understanding of the slaughter process.

The study concludes that:

  • For most consumers information on pre-slaughter stunning is not an important issue unless brought to their attention.
  • There is little accurate consumer understanding of the slaughter process
  • To religious  stakeholders  providing  information  on  all  methods  of  stun  would  be  seen  as  equal treatment should labelling of non-stunned meat become compulsory.
  • There is low consumer willingness to pay for information on whether animals have been stunned prior to slaughter.
  • There is preference for non-pejorative textual explanation with wording which should have the same meaning across the EU.
  • There will be a risk that religious groups become stigmatised.

The report is highly significant as both the European Union and the Westminster Parliament had put all further legislation about food labelling on hold until after the report had been published.

The Commission’s report will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament and Shechita UK will continue to lobby all relevant parliamentarians to ensure that the Jewish communities view is properly represented.

Following the release of the study, Shimon Cohen, Campaign Director of Shechita UK said, “I would like to thank the Commission for listening and understanding the views of faith communities on this particularly sensitive issue. There is still a long way to go, but this report reflects our position on a number of key issues.”

“Following this report, it is clear that consumers see labelling as a peripheral issue and we will focus on improving best practice in the interest of animal welfare. We hope that animal welfare campaigners will take an equally even-handed approach.”

Henry Grunwald, Chairman of Shechita UK said, “It is a tribute to our work to see comments we have been making year after year featuring in the lines of this report. Particular credit goes to Shimon and the professional team who have spent hours ensuring that our community’s opinion is being heard. Our work is not done and Shechita UK will continue to ensure that our voice is heard.”

Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis said: “Shechita is a key part of our faith and this study is a significant step in ensuring that the Jewish community is able to continue this practice without fear of discrimination. We appreciate the efforts of the European Commission in working with faith communities to ensure this report was truly comprehensive.

“I hope that this report puts the issue of labelling into context, however we must realise that the onus is now on our communities to ensure that we maintain the best possible standards of animal welfare throughout the shechita process to ensure that we are above scrutiny on those grounds.”  

The full report can be found here, the executive summary here, the annexes here and the Q&A here.  Although the date on the report is in February, this is when it was published internally within the European Commission, it was made widely available on the 28 May 2015.