The Campaign Director of Shechita UK has accused a Lib Dem peer of “stooping to a new low” after she said meat killed by the Jewish method of slaughter should be labelled in shops and not be exported.
Shimon Cohen was reacting to comments made by Baroness Parminter, the party’s former environment spokesman, who told the Lib Dem party conference: “I accept the scientific evidence that the practice of killing by the throat, passing it without pre-stunning, does compromise animal welfare.
“So if slaughter’s going to be allowed in this country without pre-stunning to supply our Muslim and Jewish communities then it should be labelled so that people can make an informed choice and it should be for our own home markets, we should not be exporting it. They do that in the Netherlands, we should do it here.”
In addition, The Sun reported her as telling the conference that people shouldn’t be “tricked” into buying non-stunned meat.
Reacting to the Sun’s report, Cohen said: “The Baroness’s well documented opposition to Shechita has stooped to a new low. Language such as trickery is offensive and should never be used in such a complex and sensitive debate. Although the current climate seems to give license for political leaders to use inflammatory language, I would urge all public figures to watch their words.
“All kosher meat in the UK is labelled and Shechita UK has long argued for comprehensive labelling so that all consumers are aware of exactly what they are eating, including where animals are mechanically stunned by electrocution, gassing, the water bath method or any of the other approved methods.”
While both the Halal and Kosher slaughter methods both involve cutting an animal’s throat, windpipe and the blood vessels around its neck with a sharp blade, the main difference between Shechita and conventional mechanical slaughter is in the way that the animals are stunned. Shechita incorporates an integral and irreversible stun by severing the anterior structures of the neck with a rapid transverse incision using an instrument of surgical sharpness.
The Baroness’ comments came as the party passed a motion calling on the Government to pay full regard to animal welfare, with a range of measures to improve the treatment of animals.
The party committed to phase out animal experiments, to reduce deformities in pedigree pets and make horse racing safer.
The conference also voted to ban inhumane glue traps and to end the use of wild animals in circuses immediately.
Members also called on the Government to guarantee that all future trade deals have animal welfare and environmental standards at least equivalent to those currently held in the UK.
Former leader Tim Farron, who is now the party’s environment spokesman, said: “The Liberal Democrats have always valued the part that animals play in our world and we will always demand the best environmental and welfare standards.
“Treating animals with respect is central to our liberal values and we call upon the Government to reflect this belief in its own policies.
“As Liberal Democrats, we are always proud to stand up for the rights of those that cannot stand up for themselves and we demand the same from our Government.”
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