Representatives from the 27 EU member governments including Britain rescinded May’s European Parliament (EP) decision in which MEPs narrowly voted for amendment 205, calling for meat which is “slaughtered without stunning” to be labelled.
Shechita UK, which has lobbied European governments alongside counterparts in other countries to get the amendment removed from a general food labelling bill, welcomed the outcome of Tuesday’s Council of Ministers meeting.
Its chairman Henry Grunwald said: “I would like to thank all the communal organisations with whom we work, as well as the thousands of individual members of our community who wrote to their MEPs, for the way in which they have joined together in our campaign to protect shechita in an active and disciplined fashion.”
The bill, which is at draft stage, now goes to second reading at the EP next year where amendment 205 could still be reintroduced.
Conservative MEP for London Syed Kamall, who voted against the amendment when it was proposed in the EP seven months ago said: “This is a good result but the amendment could easily be re-tabled at the second reading, so the debate is not necessarily over.
“It is important now to engage with the European Commission over the drafting of new animal welfare legislation because if labelling is introduced in a discriminatory way then I can foresee circumstances where it becomes uneconomical for shechita to be practiced in the future.”
He added: “Shechita itself could come under threat if the British government decided not to exercise its derogation rights which means that the practice of kosher slaughter is protected under British law.
“The government will be consulting on whether to remove the current safeguards in due course and I will urge them to maintain the status quo.”
Shechita UK’s campaign director Shimon Cohen said: “Our campaign is far from over, but we are making satisfactory progress, given the assault on shechita that was launched earlier this year by some members of the European Parliament.”