Gerald Kaufman to rescue on kashrut

By Jessica Elgot, April 26, 2012

MPs have narrowly rejected a proposed bill which would force retailers to label kosher meat as "killed without stunning" to stop consumers buying the meat "without their knowledge".

The bill was proposed by Conservative MP Philip Davies, who said kosher and halal meat was being "forced upon" non-religious shoppers.

But the bill, supported by the RSPCA, was rejected after a first reading by 73 votes to 70.

Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman spoke in opposition to labelling. "I am an Orthodox Jew and I was brought up in a household where only kosher meat was eaten. I do not believe for a moment that Philip Davies has the tiniest antisemitic feeling in him. However, large numbers of Jews would be very greatly distressed if what he proposes were to become law."

Mr Davies said he believed it was purely a matter of "freedom of choice."

He added: "We have no plans whatever to make the practice of halal or kosher killing illegal. However, we think that it is worth considering the appropriate labelling of all meat so that people know exactly what it is that they are eating."

Mr Davies said it was estimated 70 per cent of kosher meat was not consumed by the Jewish community.

Sir Gerald said the MP had "picked on two small minorities who share the way in which the meat they eat is killed".

Last updated: 2:38pm, April 26 2012