New environment secretary ‘made no secret of views on shechita,’ campaigners say

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New environment secretary ‘made no secret of views on shechita,’ campaigners say

The newly-appointed minister George Eustice spoke in favour of post-cut stunning and stricter quotas for kosher meat in the UK

Environment Secretary George Eustice leaving Downing Street,  Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Environment Secretary George Eustice leaving Downing Street, Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)

Britain’s new environment secretary has made “no secret of his views on Shechita and on Shechita UK”, the kosher advocate said on Thursday.

Theresa Villiers, seen by some as a staunch ally to the community, was sacked and replaced as environment secretary by George Eustice, the MP for Camborne and Redruth, during the prime minister Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle.

Speaking after Eustice’s appointment, Shimon Cohen, campaign director at Shechita UK, described the departing minister as a “great friend of our community.”

“We are sorry to see her go and are very grateful for her support, particularly over the last few months,” he said.

But while congratulating Eustice on his new role, Cohen added: “Mr Eustice has made no secret of his views on shechita and on Shechita UK.

“However, we look forward to a constructive dialogue with every confidence that as a member of the cabinet, he will support the pledge that this Government has already given us to maintain the longstanding commitment to the protection of religious animal slaughter for food.”

Eustice, who previously served as agriculture and fisheries minister, has spoken in favour of labelling meat that was not stunned before slaughter.

He drew criticism last year when he proposed MPs hold a free vote on the religious slaughter of farm animals. “There has been an alarming rise in the proportion of farm animals slaughtered without stunning and our regulations in this area are outdated. We are falling behind other developed countries,” he said.

Speaking during a Westminster Hall debate in July, the MP suggested stricter quotas for kosher meat in the UK as well as post-cut stunning, a practice he claimed drew “some rabbinical support.”

“I do not believe that a post-cut stun would violate the religious beliefs of either the Halal Food Authority or Shechita UK,” he said – a view dismissed by Schechita UK which described post-cut stunning as “not the normative halachic position.”

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