Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Food labels again

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked HMG in a Written Question:
why there is no requirement to label halal meat in shops and restaurants; and what steps they propose to take to inform consumer choice in this area.
As we know from the Boss on EURef it is easier for supermarkets to tell slaughterhouses (of which we have far fewer because of various EU regulations severely gold-plated by successive British governments) to slaughter everything the halal way. This is, of course, outrageous as many people have no desire to eat halal meat but are given no choice and no information. (Incidentally, I have been told that numerous imams have stated that it is not against Muslim law to stun animals before they are slaughtered but there is a disagreement on the subject.)

So what can HMG, what can anybody do to ensure that information is available. Not a lot, it seems, and I am sure readers of this blog are not surprised as it has been a constant theme that food labelling is EU competence.

Lord Taylor of Holbeach or his minions at DEFRA replied:
The Government believe that people should know what they are buying in shops or when they are eating out. An amendment to require food labels to indicate whether an animal has been stunned before slaughter was proposed last year by the European Parliament in the context of proposals for an EU food information for consumers regulation. This proposal was not taken up, but in subsequent discussions a compromise agreement was reached that highlighted the importance of this issue and proposed that it should be considered by the EU Commission in a welfare context as part of the anticipated discussion on the EU welfare strategy.
The Government support this approach, as it will allow consumer information to be considered alongside measures to minimise the suffering of animals slaughtered without stunning. The Commission has recently published its proposed Welfare Strategy for 2012-15 and has confirmed it will be studying the issue of labelling as provided for in last year's agreement on the food information for consumers regulation. The Government welcome this approach and we look forward to receiving further proposals from the Commission. In the mean time we are considering how we can use domestic legislation.
So, errm, the proposal that this information should be available was thrown out and instead a "compromise" was agreed on, which said that it is very important and we are going to talk about it some more. And there is nothing we can do about it because we have to do what the Commission and the European Parliament, not to mention the Council of Ministers, decide on. But do not worry: there will be lots more discussions and HMG thinks that is a jolly good idea.


  1. It may not be possible to legally insist on labelling but why can't producers be persuaded to voluntarily label their meat?

  2. With slaughtering being done in large slaughter houses for supermarkets it is easier to slaughter everything the halal way. They are not going to label all meat as halal but a good deal of it is. This is a commercial decision as Richard North explains in his article. (I have linked to his posting on the subject.)

  3. I agree Helen - but if buyers were to rebel and refuse to purchase meat not clearly marked as having used stunning to prevent suffering it would soon happen.

  4. this is true. we need to know what in our food. by they way, send free text messages at

  5. Halal requires a blessing to Allah by a Muslim present.

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