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Villiers confirms Government will not be labelling meat from non-stun slaughter

She said she thought it was ‘important for people to be able to follow their faith’.

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Theresa Villiers confirms Government will not be labelling meat from non-stun slaughter

Theresa Villiers has said the Government will not introduce labelling on meat from non-stun slaughter.

 

The Defra Secretary said the Government opposed restrictions on non-stun slaughter and that she ‘would not have supported’ amendments to the Agriculture Bill, proposed earlier in the year, which would have required the labelling of non-stun meat.

 

She said she thought it was ‘important for people to be able to follow their faith’.

 

In a letter to Ms Villiers, The National Secular Society (NSS) urged the Government to end the religious exemption which allows non-stun slaughter, or short of that to introduce labelling requirements and prohibit the export of non-stun meat.

 

It said her position seemed to ‘accept that the economic viability of the kosher industry is dependent on non-stun meat being allowed to slip into the general food chain’.


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NSS chief executive Stephen Evans said: “It is concerning to see a Secretary of State for environment, food and rural affairs prioritising religious interests over improving animal welfare and providing consumers with accurate information about the products they are buying.”

 

The Government was recently accused of double standards on halal slaughter following a call by Farming Minister George Eustice that stunning immediately post-cut in religious slaughter should be encouraged, particularly in cattle.

 

‘Contentious area’

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers said this was despite Defra having prevented a large number of halal slaughterers from adopting the practice due to its insistence of the ’20 second rule’ for sheep.

 

In July Mr Eustice called for a free vote on religious non-stun slaughter, following what he said had been ‘an alarming rise’.

 

It followed his exclusive admission to Farmers Guardian that the UK was ‘lagging behind’ the rest of the developed world in terms of its regulation on religious slaughter, predominantly due to a Government tendency to ‘shy away from change’ in a ‘contentious area’.

While the British Veterinary Association (BVA) has been campaigning for an end to non-stun slaughter, it said clearer labelling was essential if slaughter without stunning was still to be permitted.

 

Senior vice president Simon Doherty said: “Clearer labelling […] enables all consumers to make informed choices about the food that they buy and eat.

 

“We are also advocating a number of other pragmatic asks including matching supply and demand, post-cut stunning and a ban on the export of non-stun meat.”

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