June 21, 2010

New EU rules require mandatory labelling of halal meat

Halal and kosher meat will have to be labelled under new EU rules.
Millions of cows, goats and chickens are slaughtered without stunning each year in the UK under Muslim and Jewish practices, which enjoy an exemption from animal welfare laws.
The RSPCA, other welfare organisations and the government's veterinary experts said the practice is cruel and should be ended, but another concern is that the meat re-enters the general food chain where it is unwittingly consumed by the general population.
In a series of votes on food labelling, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted by 559 to 54 for compulsory labelling of the religious slaughter of meat without stunning. While kosher and halal meat is well labelled in specialist butchers and food outlets, the regulation would alert general consumers to supplies entering the mainstream food system.

EU member states will have to approve the legislation and it is likely to return to the European Parliament for a second reading. Once adopted, food business will have three years to adapt to the rules. Smaller operators, with fewer than 100 employees and an annual turnover under EUR5 million (US$6.2 million), will have five years to comply.

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