August 26, 2010
annexe iii of the eu regulation on the provision of food information to consumers (page 51 of http://ec.europa.eu/food/food/labellingnutrition/foodlabelling/publicati... ) at present begins …
|TYPE OR CATEGORY OF FOOD||PARTICULARS|
|1. FOODS PACKAGED IN CERTAIN GASES|
|1.1 Foods whose durability has been extended by means of packaging gases authorised pursuant to Council Directive 89/107/EEC33|
|2. FOODS CONTAINING SWEETENERS|
annexe iii may be amended by the eu commission (articles 10(2) and 49(4) at pages 29 and 45), unless the eu parliament within four months opposes the amendment by a majority, in accordance with the procedure in article 5a(4)(e) of 1999/468/EC (page 6 of http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/consleg/1999/D/01999D0468-20... )
the commission's proposed amendment (#205 of http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+REPORT+... ) inserts a new category 1a, "meat products from special slaughter" …
|1a. MEAT PRODUCTS FROM SPECIAL SLAUGHTER|
|1a.1 Meat and meat products derived from animals that have not been stunned prior to slaughter, i.e. have been ritually slaughtered|
… with the following justification:
EU legislation permits animals to be slaughtered without prior stunning to provide food for certain religious communities. A proportion of this meat is not sold to Muslims or Jews but is placed on the general market and can be unwittingly purchased by consumers who do not wish to buy meat derived from animals that have not been stunned. At the same time, however, adherents of certain religions specifically seek meat from animals which have been ritually slaughtered. Accordingly, consumers should be informed that certain meat is derived from animals which have not been stunned. This will enable them to make an informed choice in accordance with their ethical concerns.
of course, this does not "enable them to make an informed choice in accordance with their ethical concerns", since it does not tell them whether the animal was humanely slaughtered
on the contrary, it enables consumers only to make a choice in accordance with their religious (or anti-religious) prejudices
eu legislation should not give consumers the right to know "what was the religion of the slaughterer?", but it should give them the right to know "was the slaughter humane?"
give gentiles the choice!
gentile slaughter essentially involves blowing the animals brains out (or electrocution … for details see para 13 of schedule 5 to the welfare of animals (slaughter or killing) regulations, s.i. 1995 no. 731) … that's ok so long as the animal is unconscious, but unfortunately in many cases the stunning is not effective, and the animal is still conscious when its brains are blown out
now i wouldn't seek to stop gentiles eating meat from such animals, but i do think they should be given the informed choice …
they should know "is this animal guaranteed to have been killed carefully and humanely, or did it possibly have its brains blown out in great pain and terror?"
this amendment should be opposed on the grounds that it "does not respect the principles of … proportionality" … it causes undue harm to the kosher and halal slaughter industry, and to race relations, without achieving the intended purpose, of giving consumers an ethical informed choice based on humaneness
moreover, the amended legislation would not give the consumer an informed choice about whether non-ritually slaughtered animals were humanely killed
the amendment should be revised by adding the word "humane" to the label, so that it reads
this would give the consumer more information than the proposed label, and would specifically answer the very question the consumer needs to know, thus restoring proportionality
i assume the proponents of this amendment are not actually claiming that shechita isn't humane, and unless they do it is difficult to see what objection they can have to this revised label
perhaps there should be a survey of eu consumers, asking them "what would be your reaction to meat labelled 'meat from humane slaughter without stunning'? would you prefer to buy meat with or without such a label?"
i expect most eu consumers would prefer meat labelled as 'humanely slaughtered' to unlabelled meat
perhaps kosher slaughterers should start now to use the label 'meat from humane slaughter without stunning', at least in a trial area, so as to present the eu parliament with an established usage?
(this could be accompanied by a campaign, aimed at consumers, emphasising the benefits of humane slaughter, and the terrible consequences of ineffective stunning )
if it achieves consumer approval, it will show the parliament that this label is in consumers' interest
if the amendment is approved without revision
even if the amendment is approved without revision, it is arguable that shechted meat could still legally be labelled 'meat from humane slaughter without stunning', since the extra word gives extra information which in no way detracts from the official label
(alternatively, the words "humanely slaughtered" could be added at the beginning, leaving the official label intact)
and finally of course there could be a challenge in the european courts on the grounds inter alia of lack of porportionality
(a interesting review of ritual slaughter legislation in the usa britain and nazi-occupied poland is at http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?70+Law+&+Contemp.+Probs.+175+(winter+2007)#H2N10 )