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Halal meat not 'organic:' ECJ

February 26, 2019

Meat from animals which are not stunned before slaughter cannot be labeled organic, the EU's top court has ruled. The organic standard places a high emphasis on animal welfare.

Halal meat in France
Image: picture-alliance/maxppp/J. PELAEZ

The meat from animals slaughtered under ritualistic practices cannot be labeled as organic, the European Union's top court ruled on Tuesday.

The EU organic standard places a high emphasis on animal welfare and ritualistic slaughter does not reach its threshold, the European Court of Justice found.

Ritualistic slaughter, in which animals are not stunned before being killed, is allowed under freedom of religion laws, but the lack of anesthesia means the animal suffers too much for the organic standard, the court found.

Animals killed in such a fashion have their throat slit in one movement, generally losing consciousness shortly afterward.

Oeuvre d'Assistance aux Betes d'Abattoirs (OAB), which ensures animal welfare in slaughterhouses, brought the initial case in France, arguing against the advertising and labeling of minced meat certified as "halal" as organic meat. The ECJ ruling targeted ritualistic slaughter generally, under which halal slaughter falls.

Read more: #Halalchallenge: Racism in the guise of animal rights

A tale of two chickens

Jewish group upset

The Central Council of Jews in Germany has slammed the ruling, saying they could not understand the decision. The ruling was "a slap in the face for the Jewish community and testifies to a great ignorance about religious slaughter," Council President Josef Schuster told the epd news agency.

The ruling also affects kosher slaughter practices, in which animals are not generally sedated.

The German Animal Welfare Federation welcomed the ruling, saying it did not preclude all forms of halal slaughter.

"Fortunately, there is a very large number of Muslim religious communities for whom slaughter with anesthesia and halal are not a contradiction," the group said, saying certain halal practices focused instead on the orientation of the animal during slaughter and the use of Muslim butchers.

aw/cmk (dpa, AFP, epd, KNA)

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