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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


Meeting with Struan Stevenson MEP
29 October 2010
Meeting with Struan Stevenson MEP

The availability of kosher meat in the UK is under threat as a result of an amendment to EU Regulations that recently passed the first stage of its consideration by the European Parliament.  SCoJeC therefore arranged to meet Struan Stevenson MEP, a member of the relevant European Parliament Committee, along with Shimon Cohen, campaign director of the shechitah defence organisation, Shechitah UK.

The EU proposal would require meat products derived from animals that have been slaughtered by shechitah (the Jewish religious humane method of animal slaughter for food) to be labelled as "meat from slaughter without stunning", but there is no proposal to label meat from animals that have been gassed, shot, electrocuted, or that were not successfully stunned and therefore spend the time immediately before their death in agony.  This is, quite simply, discrimination.

Amongst the points we made to Mr Stevenson were:

shechitah in fact meets both the EU and UK legal definitions of stunning, since it is a "process which causes immediate loss of consciousness which lasts until death".  (The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995.  SI 1995 No. 731);

recent research supposedly about shechitah, that has been quoted by supporters of the amendment, is in fact derived from unregulated Moslem slaughter in Turkey - a country that is not an EU member, and where EU standards of animal welfare do not apply;

the proposed labelling regulations do not treat all meat production equally, but would stigmatise only one method of production, and so amount to indirect discrimination;

the EU has no plans to label meat from animals which have been mis-stunned - i.e. incapacitated but not necessarily rendered unconscious prior to being slaughtered - by electrocution or gassing, both of which are known to be inherently painful;

shechitah accounts for less than one-third of 1% of animals slaughtered for meat. Although the EU's own estimates are that between 6.6% and 31% of  animals are not effectively stunned by the "captive bolt", and therefore die in agony, there are no plans to label meat from these animals.

At the end of the meeting, Mr Stevenson said he heard what we had said, though he still disagreed with some of the scientific research about shechitah, and believed that labelling is not practicable to meet the issue of mis-stunning. However, he accepted that there is a need to give further thought to the wording currently proposed by the EU.

Shimon Cohen said this was "a very good result in one stage of the process. The next stage is to get food ministers across the European Union to reject the parliament's text, and to build a coalition of MEPs to have the amendment deleted."


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