Halal row should not hijack labelling debate, says BVA

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

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The UK’s halal labelling row must not derail a campaign which aims to highlight whether meat has been stunned or not at the point of slaughter, veterinary leaders have warned.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) is calling for method of slaughtering on labels in its wider campaign to end the practice of non-stun slaughter. It has written to UK political leaders, calling for support for clearer labelling on the issue.

The calls were prompted by widespread media coverage claiming UK retailers and foodservice outlets were selling halal and kosher meat as standard, without informing consumers. The BVA is concerned that confusion over the situation could lead to the wrong choices being made on labelling.

In the letters to the politicians, the BVA said labelling all halal and kosher products would do nothing to inform the public about the very proper concerns regarding welfare at slaughter but "could fuel further confusion and potentially feed prejudice".

They pointed out that labelling a product as halal would make little different to the issue of welfare, as close to 90% of UK halal production is stunned at the point of slaughter.

Robin Hargreaves, BVA president, 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."

Related topics: Meat

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