More MEPs weigh in on Shechita row

By Robyn Rosen, September 28, 2010

More influential MEPs have spoken out in favour of "discriminatory" legislation which would lead to the labelling of kosher meat.

The 15 British MEPs who sit on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (Envi) committee, have been approached for their views on amendment 205 to the Provision of Food Information to Consumers legislation. Amendment 205 requires all meat products derived from animals slaughtered by shechitah to be labelled as "meat from slaughter without stunning".

The amendment was passed through the European Parliament in June and will return for a second reading in December. The Envi Committee has the power to remove the amendment from the bill before it reaches parliament.

Lobbyists Shechita UK say the amendment is "discriminatory" and could cause kosher prices to "rocket".

Conservative MEP for Scotland, Struan Stevenson, said: "I am a farmer and have visited many slaughterhouses throughout Europe. I completely reject the idea that pre-stunning leads to more cruelty. I have never seen that. It's rubbish. I believe pre-stunning is essential.

"If people think this is not a cruel form and does not cause suffering, they should have nothing to fear from this labelling. I disagree and think it is a cruel form of slaughter.

"I would support the banning of shechitah but know I'd never get a majority for that."

Conservative MEP for the North West, Jacqueline Foster, said: "Although I fully appreciate the degree of skill and precision with which every shochet performs each slaughter, slaughter without stunning can cause undue suffering and distress for animals and I believe that consumers have the right to know, not only where their meat comes from, but also how it has been slaughtered.

"It is for these reasons that I intend to continue to support amendment 205. However, let me be absolutely clear - this is not an attack on kosher food, my difficult decision was based purely in animal welfare grounds as we know of too many incidences where the means of slaughter is not acceptable."

Glenis Willmott, leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party and MEP for the East Midlands, also supports 205. She is meeting representatives from Shechita UK next month. She said: "I will listen very carefully to the arguments put forward to me as well as discussing the potential for any compromise solution to be found".

Chris Davies, Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West, said: "I voted yes on amendment 205 because I believe that consumers have the right to know if the meat they are buying has been slaughtered without stunning."

So far, Marina Yannakoudakis, Conservative MEP for London, Paul Nuttall, UKIP MEP for the North West and Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire have committed to vote against the amendment.

The BNP's Nick Griffin missed the last vote but says he is in favour of 205.

Last updated: 2:08pm, September 28 2010