Kosher meat labels rejected by EU

By Robyn Rosen and Michel Zlotowski, December 9, 2010
Reprieve: Meat slaughtered by strictly religious methods now gets a second chance

Reprieve: Meat slaughtered by strictly religious methods now gets a second chance

The campaign to save shechitah in Europe has passed another hurdle after European ministers rejected controversial labelling plans.

The Council of Ministers approved a draft of new food information regulation on Tuesday.

The draft did not include Amendment 205, which called for all meat products derived from animals slaughtered by shechitah to be labelled "meat from slaughter without stunning".

Campaign group Shechita UK said 205 effectively made kosher meat "second-class meat" and could cause kosher prices to rocket because buyers from the non-kosher market, which consumes 70 per cent of shechitah-slaughtered meat, might be put off by the labelling. The European Parliament backed the amendment in June but the Council's decision means that when the bill returns for a second reading in March, it will not include the amendment.

But it could be reintroduced. Shechita UK director Shimon Cohen said: "While we are very pleased with the outcome of the Council meeting, there is still much work to do.

"The European Commission is beginning a new consultation next year on animal welfare labelling, and we are continuing to work in Brussels with the European Jewish Congress to explain to the European food authorities the humane nature of shechitah."

Philip Carmel, director of international relations for the Conference of European Rabbis, hailed the move as
a victory for Jewish communities
across Europe.

"The co-ordinated campaign, involving all communities and particularly our rabbis, shows what can be achieved when Jews work together," he said.

The Chief Rabbi of Metz (in the east of France), Bruno Fiszon, said: "It means that no European government wished to implement the amendment introduced by German MEP Renate Sommer. But we have to understand that we didn't win the battle yet."

In the meantime, he said, France's Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim and the president of the French Consistoire, Joël Mergui, will convene a meeting of the European Jewish stakeholders in shechitah in January.

"We have to design a joint strategy to protect shechitah in Europe."

Last updated: 1:50pm, December 9 2010