Jerusalem Post: EU Ministers Call to Rescind Rule for Kosher Meat Labeling

The new draft follows months of lobbying by representatives of Shechita UK together with the European Jewish Congress (EJC).

The European Council of Ministers, meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, agreed to set aside a requirement that kosher meat be labeled as having undergone a method of slaughter that some consider inhumane.

Last June, the European Parliament voted in support of Amendment 205, which called for all meat products that undergo shechita, or Jewish ritual slaughter, to be labeled “meat from slaughter without stunning.” The new draft followed months of lobbying by representatives of Shechita UK together with the European Jewish Congress (EJC).

Shechita UK and the Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed Tuesday’s decision.

“We would like to thank all the communal organizations with whom we work,” said Shechita UK chairman Henry Grunwald. “The EJC in particular have been a most valued partner in our lobbying efforts. I would like to thank as well the thousands of individual members of our community who wrote to their MEPs, for the way in which they have joined together in our campaign to protect shechita in an active and disciplined fashion.”

The new draft will return to the European Parliament for a second reading in 2011. However, Amendment 205 could be reintroduced, and Shechita UK and the Board of Deputies said they would continue their lobbying efforts.

“Today’s outcome in the EU is as a result of the sustained lobbying efforts of both the Board and Shechita UK, and the many community members who wrote to petition their MEPs,” said Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. “Notwithstanding, there is no room for complacency and we will need to continue in earnest in the ensuing months to ensure that this prejudicial labeling amendment does not find its way back into consideration.”

Shechita UK campaign director Shimon Cohen agreed.

“While we are very pleased with the outcome of the Council [of Ministers’] meeting, there is still much work to do to ensure that new laws are not introduced next year which discriminate against shechita,” Cohen said. “The European Commission is beginning a new consultation next year on animal welfare labeling, and we are continuing to work in Brussels with the European Jewish Congress to explain to the European food authorities the humane nature of shechita.”