British parliament refuses to offer kosher food for 'ethical' reasons

"Parliament's catering services have taken a position that goes beyond the laws of the country."

January 31, 2018 15:00
2 minute read.
British parliament refuses to offer kosher food for 'ethical' reasons

A rainbow is seen behind the Big Ben clock tower, at the Houses of Parliament in central London, Britain, October 16, 2016.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Kosher food will not be served in the British Parliament's cafeterias after catering services adopted an "ethical" stance opposing non-stun slaughter.

Parliamentary catering services revealed that the decision not to serve kosher food was based on guidelines set by British animal rights groups, including the British Veterinary Association and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, against non-stun slaughter.

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The implementation of the guidelines affects the provision of both kosher and halal food in the parliament.

The refusal follows a campaign to provide kosher meals to the thousands of members of parliament, staff and visitors who enter and work in the British parliament every day, led by Jay Stoll, a senior parliamentary assistant to a Labour member of parliament.

Stoll campaigned to see kosher food provided in at least one of the parliament building's nine cafeterias.

"Kosher options are available upon request in the banqueting rooms, which appears contradictory, but they are open only to those running special functions," Stoll told The Jerusalem Post.

Acknowledging the difficulty of preparing kosher meals on-site due to the stringent requirements of kosher food supervision, Stoll was informed that pre-packaged meals could not be outsourced "because of an 'ethical' stance on non-stun slaughter."

"I think this is pretty controversial. Morals are obviously subjective, but parliament's catering services have taken a position that goes beyond the laws of the country."

UK law generally requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, but provides an exemption for halal and kosher slaughter.

Stoll emphasized that the campaign to provide kosher food would continue if needed.

"I will wait and see what the response is from those in charge, but if they offer nothing, I will reach out to some sympathetic MPs to push this campaign on," he said.

"I think it's important that observant Jews and Muslims who would like to eat on the estate can do so, and I think it's something that can be easily resolved."

A House of Commons spokesperson told the Jewish Chronicle that catering services were applying a "longstanding" policy of supplying "outsourced ready-made kosher meals upon request for events."

Permanent kosher and halal options could not be provided, the spokesperson said, due to an inability to ensure "adequate segregation techniques" and that the provision of kosher products was "not viable in terms of costs, logistics and supplier management."

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