Calls to label meat products with information about animal welfare at slaughter “must not be hijacked by prejudice”, claims the British Veterinary Association.
Although the association continues to campaign for an end to non-stun slaughter, president Robin Hargreaves has written to the three main party leaders asking them to support its call for food labelling to state whether the animal has been stunned in line with welfare legislation, or not stunned under the legal derogation.
The letters were sent ahead of a parliamentary debate on an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill calling for compulsory labelling of halal and kosher food.
In the letters to David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, Mr Hargreaves explained the association’s concerns that Halal labelling does not recognise that around 88% of halal slaughter in the UK is pre-stunned. At the same time, the 12% that isn’t stunned – along with the hindquarters of animals slaughtered by the shechita method that are not kosher – could continue to enter the mainstream food chain unlabelled.
Mr Hargreaves said: “It is very disappointing that so much confusion remains over the issue of labelling. Calls for products to be labelled as halal or kosher will do nothing to help consumers who want to make a pro-animal welfare choice, but could fuel prejudice.
“The answer is very simple. Food should be labelled as stunned or non-stunned – a measure that was also
supported by the European Parliament in June 2010.
“This important animal welfare issue must not be hijacked by other agendas. We need all three parties to take a lead on this issue to promote better consumer information and better animal welfare.”