Calls to label meat products with information about animal welfare at slaughter must not be hijacked by prejudice, says the British Veterinary Association (BVA), which is campaigning for an end to non-stun slaughter.
U.K. MPs are debating an amendment to the country’s Consumer Rights Bill calling for compulsory labeling of halal and kosher food. BVA president Robin Hargreaves has written to the three main political parties’ leaders urging them to support the association’s call for food labeling to state whether the animal has been stunned in line with welfare legislation or not stunned under the derogation.
Hargreaves says labeling of all halal and kosher products will do nothing to inform the public, but could fuel further confusion and potentially feed prejudice.
Halal labeling does not recognize that around 88 percent of halal slaughter in the U.K. is prestunned. At the same time, the 12 percent that is not stunned, along with the hindquarters of animals slaughtered by the shechita method that are not kosher, could continue to enter the mainstream food chain unlabeled.
“It is very disappointing that so much confusion remains over the issue of labeling. Calls for products to be labeled as halal or kosher will do nothing to help consumers who want to make a pro-animal welfare choice, but could fuel prejudice.
“The answer is very simple. Food should be labeled as stunned or non-stunned -– a measure that was also supported by the European Parliament in June 2010. This important animal welfare issue must not be hijacked by other agendas,” Hargreaves says.