Meat Industry Demands End to Ritual Slaughter Ban

POLAND - Almost 2,000 representatives of the Polish meat industry protested in front of the Polish Parliament last week demanding legalisation to cover ritual slaughter of animals without stunning.
calendar icon 1 April 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

Since 1 January the slaughter of animals without stunning has been banned in Poland as a result of a court decision following a legal challenge to the standing Polish regulation, according to a report from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

The Polish Meat Association and the National Committee of Manifestation organised the protest in effort to bring to the public’s attention the larger economic cost to society including teh loss of several thousand jobs because of what the associationsaw as the country’s indifference towards personal religious rights.

Protesters said the economic damage and possible collapse of many businesses related to meat processing and meat exports could result from the legislation prohibiting slaughter of animals without stunning.

The organisers of the protest presented petitions directed to Ewa Kopacz, the Speaker of the Lower Parliament (Sejm), and to Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister, that demands modification to existing national legislation.

According to industry calculations, in 2012 animals slaughtered in accordance to ritual Islamic and Judean principles produced product amounting to 10 per cent of poultry and over 30 per cent of beef exported.

In 2012, total Polish exports of poultry meat reached €1.2 billion, and beef – €1.35 billion.

The Government of Poland released an announcement that because the Minister of Agriculture was in Brussels attending the EU Council of Ministers meeting, further government discussion on the proposal to amend the Law on Protection of Animals would be delayed.

This law provides the basis by which animal rights activists challenged religious based ritual slaughter practices.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) had sought to amend the segment of the Polish Law on Protection of Animals that the courts had ruled prohibited the slaughter of animals without prior stunning by inserting reference to EU Regulation 1099/2009, which defines the legally acceptable treatment of animals during slaughter, according to teh USDA FAS analysts.

It is reported that the proposal submitted to the Council of Ministers (Poland’s Cabinet) for consideration included the opinion of the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), which notes that even with prior stunning an animal suffered at slaughter and that certain Islamic sects (not all) allowed for stunning of animals prior to ritual slaughter.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) backed the position of the MARD with its legal opinion that the (MARD) proposal was in line with the EU law.

The MFA added that in Austria, France and Germany ritual slaughter was allowed through special permits issued to religious communities, while in Spain and Italy slaughter plants only were required to notify authorities that they conduct ritual slaughter on premise.

The animal welfare organisation, Foundation Ius Animalia, has accused the MARD of incorrect interpretation of EU law.

In its opinion slaughter with stunning is a rule in the EU while ritual slaughter is an exception that requires the introduction of detailed national regulations.

It also refers to the European Tribunal of Human Rights, which in 2000 stated that if ritual slaughter is carried out, it must be regulated by the national public authority.

Last week’s demonstration served to further broaden the political stakes challenging the current Polish government as it moved the public discussion beyond the religious versus animal rights debate to bring in commercial and employment issues in a country sliding into economic contraction and rising unemployment.

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