Shechita UK chief ‘confident’ government listening over animal labelling concerns

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Shechita UK chief ‘confident’ government listening over animal labelling concerns

Results of government's call for evidence over animal labelling show 99 per cent of those who responded felt that method of slaughter info should be introduced for consumers

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Shechita UK’s campaign director Shimon Cohen is confident the government has listened to concerns that any new animal welfare labelling requirements do not single out or negatively impact on the kosher meat industry.

Cohen said he was “grateful” the government had “listened to and acted on our concerns” as the the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs published the summary of responses to its call for evidence on labelling for animal welfare.

The  published document showed that 99 per cent of those who responded  to the question on whether the government should introduce method of slaughter labelling to consumers, agreed they should.

“We received 1,413 responses to this question,” it is confirmed.

“Almost 99% of responses from individuals felt that the Government should introduce method of slaughter labelling.

“1,367 individuals answered ‘Yes, as a mandatory label’, and 31 answered ‘Yes, through voluntary labelling, with terminology defined in law’. 

“5 answered ‘Perhaps, but this should be at discretion of the business’. 10 answered ‘No’.”

The results confirmed that respondents argued that there was a need for mandatory labelling on meat products to indicate whether the animal had been stunned prior to slaughter. 

Such responses typically stated that such information was needed in order for consumers to make informed purchases in line with their values. 

It added:” Some asserted consumers’ right to avoid purchasing meat from animals that have been slaughtered without stunning out of concern for animal welfare.

 “Some also stated the need for consumers to identify and purchase meat which has been prepared in accordance with their religious beliefs. 

“Some respondents raised the possibility that providing information on the specific method of slaughter used could lead consumers to decrease their meat consumption, citing this as a positive for animal welfare.

“Some respondents voiced concerns that labelling might present problems for Kosher and Halal supply chains.”

It was also confirmed in the document, published on Wednesday, that the government is “especially interested in exploring the potential of mandatory labelling, particularly given its ability to ensure labelling of lower-welfare products, including imported products that do not meet UK baseline welfare legislation.”

It said:”We recognise the regulatory impact that mandatory labelling could have on businesses, and will co-develop proposals with industry and other key stakeholders to take full account of the potential costs and benefits at all stages of the supply chain. 

“Any future labelling reform would seek to minimise burden on industry by putting in place appropriate mitigation measures, and we will work further with stakeholders to identify what form such measures could take.

“Building on the findings of this call for evidence, in 2023 the UK Government will therefore consult on proposals to improve and expand current mandatory labelling requirements for animal welfare, and to introduce complementary measures in the food service sector. These proposals will cover both domestic and imported products, taking into account our international trade obligations.”

It was confirmed that there was a total of 1,633 responses, including from members of the public, industry, animal welfare groups, and their members or supporters to the call for evidence.

Around 93% of respondents were from individuals (1,515 in total) and around 7% were from organisations (109 in total).

Shechita UK’s Cohen said: “It has been positive working with the Government from the early stages of this project. They have listened to and acted on our concerns. 

“We are very grateful.

” Shechita UK has proposed that any new animal welfare labelling requirements should indicate the standards of the animal’s life and upkeep, and we are very pleased that the summary as published indicates widespread interest in this approach, rather than for any pejorative or stigmatising label. 

“Shechita UK will continue to advocate in support of Kosher meat production, and is thankful for the Government’s continued support.”

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