Meat sold in the UK should be labeled according to the method of slaughter employed, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders said last week. The call for clearer labeling comes after it was revealed that the majority of meat sold in the country’s main supermarket chains, as well as in several fast-food franchises, is unlabeled Halal meat, prepared according to Islamic law.
British consumers have objected to the existing situation, with the Daily Mail reporting that Tory MPs are pushing an amendment to the Consumer Rights Bill that would require labeling of Halal meat.
The British Retail Consortium, representing the supermarket chains, and Prime Minister David Cameron have objected to such a move, though for different reasons.
The BRC has stated that it does not believe that its customers care about the origin of their meat.
A spokesman for Cameron was quoted by the BBC as asserting that labeling is “a matter for retailers and restaurants to work with customers and consumer groups and representatives of faith organizations,” rather than for legislators.
In response to the “pejorative” labeling campaign, Shechita UK, an advocacy body representing a number of national Jewish organizations, has called for a “far more comprehensive labeling of meat, which does not stigmatize faith communities of religious slaughter.”
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Shechita UK chairman Henry Grunwald and the Muslim Council of Britain’s Dr Shuja Shafi asserted that all meat products should be labeled according to the method of slaughter employed, regardless of religious affiliation or lack thereof.
“If two chickens reared in exactly the same conditions are both electrocuted until they are unconscious and then one goes into an enormous machine which scalds, feathers and decapitates it, while the other goes to a Muslim who happens to be reciting a prayer, why are critics quite content with the former but up in arms about the latter,” the pair asked.