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Halal row ‘hijacking animal welfare concerns’

British Veterinary Association | British Veterinary Association

5 min read Partner content

Britain’s vets have warned that calls to label meat as ‘halal’ could be both misleading those concerned about animal welfare and could fuel prejudice.

More than 80% of animals slaughtered in the UK for halal consumption are actually pre-stunned, a major concern for consumers concerned about humane killing of animals.

“We have always made it very clear that we are not concerned with the practising of religious belief, but with the throat cutting of animals that have not been rendered insensible to pain,” Robin Hargreaves, President of the British Veterinary Association , said in a letterto the leaders of the three main parties.

“To move the discussion away from one about ‘halal’ and ‘kosher’ we would strongly urge the government to compel the industry to label whether meat is from stunned or non-stunned animals.”

Hargreaves said the suggestion of labelling all halal and kosher products via an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill “will do nothing to inform the public about the very proper concerns regarding welfare at slaughter but could fuel further confusion and potentially feed prejudice”.

The BVAsaid consumers should know whether meat is from animals that have been slaughtered in line with UK and EU welfare legislation or under the derogation.

It is calling on all three political partiesto support better consumer information and better animal welfare.

The issue of whether consumers are unwittingly eating halal meat was raised at deputy prime minister’s questions today.

Tory MP Henry Bellingham said consumers "deserve to have clear labelling of all halal meat in stores and restaurants. If my constituents go to Pizza Express, they expect the guidance and labelling to be on the menu, not just on the website."

Nick Clegg said consumers "need the right information about the food that they are buying. Some meat is already voluntarily labelled as halal or kosher. This is an issue that provokes strong responses, and for some people it is important that all meat is labelled clearly."

Clegg added: "We are working with other EU countries to look at the best options for compulsory labelling, to give consumers the choice they want. A study into this matter will finish this summer, and we will review the options then."

Hargreaves said:

"Recent media coverage has also revealed a very strong feeling amongst the general public for better labelling about the provenance of food they are buying and eating. We very much hope you will listen to this sentiment and take forward the debate about clearer food labelling.

"Halal labelling does not recognise that around 88% of halal slaughter in the UK is pre-stunned,” Hargreaves said.

“At the same time the 12% that isn’t stunned, along with the hindquarters of animals slaughtered by the shechita method that are not kosher, could continue to enter the mainstream food chain unlabelled.”

More than 80% of animals slaughtered in the UK for halal consumption are actually pre-stunned, a major concern for consumers concerned about humane killing of animals.

“We have always made it very clear that we are not concerned with the practising of religious belief, but with the throat cutting of animals that have not been rendered insensible to pain,” Robin Hargreaves, President of the British Veterinary Association , said in a letterto the leaders of the three main parties.

“To move the discussion away from one about ‘halal’ and ‘kosher’ we would strongly urge the government to compel the industry to label whether meat is from stunned or non-stunned animals.”

Hargreaves said the suggestion of labelling all halal and kosher products via an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill “will do nothing to inform the public about the very proper concerns regarding welfare at slaughter but could fuel further confusion and potentially feed prejudice”.

The BVAsaid consumers should know whether meat is from animals that have been slaughtered in line with UK and EU welfare legislation or under the derogation.

It is calling on all three political partiesto support better consumer information and better animal welfare.

The issue of whether consumers are unwittingly eating halal meat was raised at deputy prime minister’s questions today.

Tory MP Henry Bellingham said consumers "deserve to have clear labelling of all halal meat in stores and restaurants. If my constituents go to Pizza Express, they expect the guidance and labelling to be on the menu, not just on the website."

Nick Clegg said consumers "need the right information about the food that they are buying. Some meat is already voluntarily labelled as halal or kosher. This is an issue that provokes strong responses, and for some people it is important that all meat is labelled clearly."

Clegg added: "We are working with other EU countries to look at the best options for compulsory labelling, to give consumers the choice they want. A study into this matter will finish this summer, and we will review the options then."

Hargreaves said:

"Recent media coverage has also revealed a very strong feeling amongst the general public for better labelling about the provenance of food they are buying and eating. We very much hope you will listen to this sentiment and take forward the debate about clearer food labelling.

"Halal labelling does not recognise that around 88% of halal slaughter in the UK is pre-stunned,” Hargreaves said.

“At the same time the 12% that isn’t stunned, along with the hindquarters of animals slaughtered by the shechita method that are not kosher, could continue to enter the mainstream food chain unlabelled.”

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