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No EU organic seal for slaughtering without anaesthesia

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symbol picture © Shutterstock/Milanchikow Sergey

Meat obtained from ritual slaughter without prior stunning must not bear the European organic logo. This was decided  by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The reason given by the European Court of Justice is as follows: When animals are slaughtered without anaesthesia, which is exceptionally permitted in the European Union in order to guarantee freedom of religion, the suffering of the animals is not kept as low as possible - even if a precise neck cut with a sharp knife is used so that the animal does not have to suffer for so long. Scientific studies have shown that only stunning has the least effect on animal welfare during slaughter.

Ecocert rejected application of the animal protectors first

The complaint was brought by the French association Œuvre d'assistance aux bêtes d'abattoirs (OABA), which wanted to prevent minced steaks labelled "halal" from bearing the EU organic label. The EU regulation on the organic label states: "The suffering of the animals, including mutilation, must be kept as low as possible throughout the life of the animals and at slaughter".

Ecocert had implicitly rejected the application of the animal protectionists, the competent French administrative court had asked the ECJ for advice.

Organic label to give consumers security

The ECJ now declares that the aim of organic labelling is "to maintain and justify consumer confidence in products labelled as organic". It is important to give consumers the assurance that products bearing the EU organic logo have been produced in compliance with the highest standards, including animal welfare.

But halal does not automatically mean that animals were slaughtered without anaesthetic. The consumer advice centre writes on its website: "Ritual slaughter without anaesthesia of animals is generally forbidden in Germany - an exemption is only granted under strict conditions. Therefore, halal slaughtering takes place almost exclusively with anesthesia. The import of meat from religious slaughter is permitted - there is no EU-wide uniform regulation regarding religiou slaughtering. Meat from religiously slaughtered animals does not have to be marked accordingly".

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