An organization that represents the Jewish community on issues of shechita (ritual slaughter) has lodged an official complaint with the European Union, accusing an EU-funded project of defaming Jewish ritual slaughter practices.
Shechita UK - a body that unites representatives from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, National Council of Shechita Boards, Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations and Campaign for the Protection of Shechita - has lodged an official complaint with the European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Consumers, alleging that DIALREL, a project that claims to "encourage dialogue on issues of ritual slaughter," defamed on its Web site the method of Shechita.
The complaint came after the Institute for Food and Agricultural Research and Technology of the government of Catalonia (IRTA) used content provided by DIALREL stating that cattle are "mechanically turned on their back" and poultry shackled during the shechita process.
Quoting DIALREL, IRTA said on its Web site: "Shechita: animals are slaughtered without stunning. Before slaughter, all cattle are restrained and mechanically turned on their back and all poultry shackled."
This brought a sharp rebuke from the chairman of Shechita UK, who accused DIALREL of "agenda-based flawed research."
"To claim that cattle are restrained and mechanically turned on their back and all poultry shackled is factually incorrect and defamatory, and to allege that animals are slaughtered without stunning denies the most effective stun which is actually incorporated in the shechita procedure," alleged Henry Grunwald, chairman of Shechita UK.
"Despite our protestations, those responsible for DIALREL refuse to remove defamatory information from their Web sites," he claimed.
"This matter has tainted DIALREL, and Shechita UK can have no confidence in what is supposed to be an academic study. DIALREL cannot promote a dialogue with interested parties when it so clearly has an anti-Shechita bias," Grunwald alleged.
"We are calling on the EU to fully investigate and, if necessary, intervene to ensure that this project is not able to abuse EU funding to promote its own agenda by purporting to present academic research," said Grunwald.
Shechita UK was set up as a community project to promote awareness of, and education about, the Jewish religious method of dispatching animals for food and to dispel the myths and falsehoods that have been used to attack Jews and their religion.
The organization is the core-group responsible for the inception of Shechita EU, a working group established early in 2009 to coordinate communication with the EU on all aspects of shechita.