Thursday, 9 December 2010

Food Labelling - The EU Backpedals

I few weeks ago I wrote about how halal meat was entering the food chain without being labelled.

My main concern was that this meat is not slaughtered to British standards and much of it is imported.  I was fortunate be provided with information from Osama Saeed who assured me that the majority of halal meat is subject to stunning, although the statistics would appear to cover the UK slaughtered meat only.

Earlier this year MEPs voted in favour of German MEP Renate Sommer's proposed amendment to draft legislation on food labelling which would mean that meat and meat products from ritually slaughtered animals must carry the label 'Meat from slaughter without stunning'.

However on Tuesday the European Council of Ministers today approved a draft of new food information regulation that did not include amendment 205.

The latest move to drop the proposals follows a Europe-wide lobbying campaign by the Jewish food lobby group Shechita UK, which has targeted European Ministers representing their various governments at the Council of Ministers.  Shechita UK has argued that unless meat from religiously slaughtered animals is allowed to slip into the general market covertly, the meat will become commercially unviable.  Electrical pre-stunning is not allowed under strict Jewish traditions, whereas the practice is acceptable to many British Muslims.

The NSS has been pressing the UK government to support the amendment, arguing where religious exemptions have been made to animal welfare regulations, no more animals should be slaughtered under the exemptions than is necessary for the religious market.  In a letter to the NSS just weeks before the latest move, Jim Paice MP, Minister of State for Agriculture and Food, signalled the UK Government's intention to oppose the labelling amendment say that he had recently met with Shechita UK to help him "understand the concerns driving their opposition to labelling".

That remark leads me to believe it was the Jewish lobby which halted transparent meat and meat product labelling.  It certainly appears to have lobbied Westminster successfully and therefore their religiously slaughtered meat will continue to be covertly slipped into the UK's food chain. Who said we benefit from the EU?  If we were a democracy our government would legislate in accordance with the majority's wishes and, as far as I understand, the majority of the population would prefer to know how their meat is slaughtered.  If nothing is done I can foresee the day when all UK meat and meat products are halal, mainly to appease one or two religions.

If you don't have a respected butcher near you, stick to what one commenter recommended on my initial post - scotch pies.


Richard T said...

You could of course just stick to pork.

Edward Spalton said...

This is more a religious matter than an animal welfare issue.

Halal slaughter is accompanied by the blessing
Bismillah Allah-hu-akkbar" , so the meat has been dedicated to Allah.

St Paul was fairly relaxed about Christians who ate meat dedicated to strange gods if they were unaware of doing so. On the other hand (1 Corinthians 10:20) they should certainly not do so knowingly

"But I say that the things which the gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God and I would not that yet should have fellowship with devils".

Our politically correct authorities are not likely to take much notice of Christian scruples but their is a Sikh prohibition (kurahit) on eating meat slaughtered in the Muslim way. SO perhaps they could prevail on the authorities.

A man who believes something will always beat a man who believes nothing. Our political elite believes in nothing but its entitlement to office, so it will roll over before Muslim pressure every time.

This mindset has gone very far. A former EU Commissioner, Wim Duisenberg, has urged Jews to leave the Netherlands because Muslims find their presence there offensive. So I doubt whether British politicians will dare to intervene in this matter. We native fellows will just have to put up with it.

subrosa said...

Yes of course Richard. I did initially write pork, but when I checked the comments in the first post nobody had mentioned it. So I stuck with scotch pies which RM, one of my readers, insists don't contain meat.

Woodsy42 said...

What a bizare system we have.
On the one hand we are being fed halal meat without our knowledge and often against our wishes. Meanwhile it seems most of the Halal animals are actually stunned anyway, thus ensuring it's not strictly halal at all.
So who is telling the porkies?

Hamish said...

Edward Spalton, when you write it is more a religious matter than an animal welfare one, you almost give the impression that you think the animal welfare concerns are unimportant.
I suspect you don't mean that, but your comment goes on to talk exclusively about the religious aspects. Some of us do have strong beliefs on animal welfare, and the UK, and Scotland particularly, have a good record in that area.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Proper Scotch pies contain mutton.

Good luck finding one these days.

I also read the in the Telegraph yesterday, that our good old very own gold-plating FSA intends to load yet more regulatory costs onto the slaughtering industry, in the name of "hygiene" (read "barriers to entry").

The result will be yet more centralisation, yet more animals transported vast distances to slaughter at yet further cost, and the further loss of any sense of localism or connection to the land.

I seriously fear that my local producer who sells us the most wonderful lamb, pork, goose, duck, etc, will decide that if his produce has to go even further for butchering, he'll either give up or just send the animals to the market live, and we will have no idea where they are eventually put on sale. But the big food companies will make lots of money.

Is there no end to this madness?

subrosa said...

Who is telling the porkies right enough Woodsy? I think it's a case of 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.

subrosa said...

Yes Edward, it is a religious issue but it's also an animal rights issue. It should be a public health issue and people should be told the manner of slaughter.

Only 20 years ago I would never have thought this would be an issue. I knew various religions had certain requirements but they also had their own outlets. We had our legislation for slaughtering animals.

Now it seems, these outlets want to expand into the main market and therefore are doing it without public knowledge.

This is exactly why I distrust any source other than my own butcher.

subrosa said...

Auch WY, I think RM was being facetious about our pies not having meat. You're right though, these days it's usually mince.

I didn't see that in the Telegraph. Must go and look WY. Government nearly broke the meat industry here around 20 years ago centralising slaughter houses and we lost 2 good butchers in the town. Fortunately we still have a couple, but as you suggest, it's going to cost them more to produce our meat and could be the straw which breaks the camel's back.

Edward Spalton said...


Of course animal welfare is important but I think we miss the point if we take that issue on its own.

We are in a political/religious/ideological war which has been going on for 1400 years and none of our leaders wishes to acknowledge that.

The Judge who initiated the Geert Wilders case approached a key defence witness at a dinner party (set up for the purpose) to get him to change his evidence. The eminent Western scholar of Islam testified that, whilst there were moderate Muslims, there was no such thing as moderate Islam. (Orthodox Muslims think the pacific Amadihya sect is heretical and will kill them when they can)

The question of survival or submission (the meaning of the word Islam) IMHO rather puts animal welfare in a secondary positiontmeddiat

subrosa said...

Indeed Edward, the religious aspect is as important as animal welfare, but our politicians are ignoring the animal aspect of the issue in order to appease certain religions.

While I agree with surely the rights of animals, which have been fought for my thousands in the last century, should be treated in an equal manner.

After all, we have legislation for animal slaughter and the law should be enforced rigidly. Saying certain religions do stun animals, when that is strongly against their teachings, isn't good enough for me. Not by a long chalk.

Richard T said...

Sub Rosa, I always thought of scotch pies in Star Trek terms 'It's meat Jim but not as we know it'

subrosa said...

Ha ha Richard. I was brought up on Wallace's (Dundee) pies. That was the weekly treat.

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