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The European Union threat to halal and kosher food

Summary

7 October 2010

There is a directive currently going through the European Union's legislative process regarding nutritional labeling of food. However, a German Member of the European Parliament has tagged on an amendment which requires all food from animals killed without stunning to be labeled 'meat from slaughter without stunning.'

Why does this matter?

While most halal and kosher food is of course eaten by Muslims and Jews respectively, some of it is sold into the mainstream food chain. The proposed labeling is likely to deter non-Muslim and non-Jewish consumer from buying it. In turn, that will push up the cost of halal and kosher food to Muslims and Jews.

More seriously, the amendment is the thin end of a wedge, which seeks to see halal and kosher food demonised and then banned. In the UK, the Farm Animal Welfare Council has on many occasions called for halal and kosher slaughter to be banned.

What should you do?

There are a number of things that you can do:

  1. Write to the relevant British minister, Caroline Spelman MP, Secretary of State, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) , Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR. A paper letter has most impact, but if you want to send and email, her email address is caroline@carolinespelman.com The reason for contacting the British minister is that the draft directive will come before the Council of Ministers, and we want the UK Government to oppose the amendment.
  2. Write to as many MEP's as possible. Even if the Council of Ministers takes the amendment out, the European Parliament has the power to put it back, so it is important to get our MEP's all on side. Both British Muslim MEP's, Sajjad Karim MEP and Syed Kamal MEP voted against the amendment the first time around, but they were not enough by themselves.

Resources

I cannot find anything on the Muslim Council of Britain website about this issue. However Shechita UK, which is umbrella body in the Jewish community dealing with kosher food issues has an informative website.

In particular, the Shechita UK site contains:

There is no point complaining and holding demonstrations after the EU Directive has gone through. What matters is acting now to ensure that it does not happen.

 

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