I have received numerous emails from constituents who are calling for honest labelling for meat and dairy products so they can, as consumers, make responsible choices based on how farm animals are reared.
I understand the depth of feeling constituents have on this issue. As you are probably aware there are long-standing provisions in UK law that, subject to specific requirements, permit the slaughter of animals without prior stunning to meet Jewish and Islamic religious obligations. Although I would prefer that all animals are stunned before slaughter, I recognise the significance of these requirements for these communities and accept the importance they attach to slaughter in accordance with their beliefs.
I am, however, keen to ensure that religious slaughter is only carried out by licensed slaughtermen in approved or regulated slaughterhouses. Slaughter is not and must not be permitted in any other place, even for personal consumption.
Currently, there is no national or EU requirement to display the method by which an animal was slaughtered on meat products but where this is included must be accurate. Consumers should have the necessary information available to them to make an informed choice about what they purchase and consume and this is something that the Government will be able to consider in the context of leaving the EU.
There are therefore two issues to consider; first, that the UK has no set requirements on how to label such methods of rearing and second that the method of slaughter is a matter of religious requirement for many. Any piece of legislation thus has to be sensitive of, and a balance between, the two.