The British government is seeking to use Brexit as an opportunity to introduce the long-discussed labelling of meat to indicate whether the animals were humanely stunned before slaughter, or whether this treatment was withheld for religious reasons, it said Wednesday.
The confirmation from Lord Gardiner that the government would introduce a requirement for food packaging to include a label stating whether meat was stunned or not came as new figures showed the number of sheep slaughtered without stunning in the United Kingdom every year had doubled to three million since 2011, reports Farming UK. In addition to sheep killed without being knocked out first, some 200 million chickens were killed in this way in 2017.
While all animals killed for food in the United Kingdom have to be stunned before slaughter, there are exceptions for religious reasons, such as Muslim Halal Sabiha slaughter, and Jewish Kosher. The government states the reason for the rise in demand for unstunned meat is “an enhanced religious observance” in the country, but states nonetheless that “The Government would prefer all animals to be stunned before slaughter.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 9, 2016
Public concern over food labelling appears to primarily stem from concern that Halal and other unstunned foods are not always labelled as such, leaving many unwittingly eating meat that has been ritually killed and prayed over, against the consumer’s wishes.
While control over the labelling of food is a responsibility held by the European Union, this control will lapse with Britain leaving the bloc. Britain already has among the highest animal welfare standards in Europe, and many hope the divorce will allow these standards to rise even higher.
Government Plans CCTV in All Abattoirs After Halal Slaughter Cruelty Scandal https://t.co/WEzxpNq9eH
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 11, 2017
Responding to a question about animal welfare in the House of Lords Wednesday, Lord Gardinier said: “It is absolutely essential that everyone can make an informed choice. We will be considering this issue in the context of our departure from the EU”, reports The Times.
The paper also reported the remarks of the president of the British Veterinary Association, which believes the ban on unstunned slaughter should be extended to religious killing as well. He said: “We are encouraged to hear the minister commit that the government will consider the introduction of labelling as the UK leaves the EU. We are keen to continue working with the government on this”.
The comments come weeks after farming minister George Eustice and environment secretary Michael Gove said the government was considering the future of food labelling after Brexit.
Note, this is not a ban on Halal. Just a ban on the cruel practice of un-stunned slaughter… https://t.co/FxjzyQRSD9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 29, 2017
Breitbart London reported the remarks of the farming minister in January when he said: “There is no national or EU requirement to display the method of slaughter on meat products but where this is included it must be accurate.
“The Government believes that consumers should have the necessary information available to them to make an informed choice about their food, and this is something we can consider in the context of leaving the EU.”