The health department in Malmo has shut down the Swedish city’s only supply of kosher meat, citing food sanitation reasons.
Inspectors this week raided the ICA Kvantum Malmborgs Limhamn shop, which for the past 20 years has sold frozen kosher meat per an agreement with the leaders of Malmo’s Jewish community of about 800 people, the Sydsvenskan daily reported Tuesday.
The reason given, according to Ilana Edner, a prominent member of the community, was that the Jewish community is not licensed to import food products. The inspectors cleaned out the small kosher department at ICA Kvantum and confiscated the products.
Sweden is one of only five countries where the slaughter of animals without prior stunning – a requirement for producing kosher and halal meat – is illegal. Since 2013, Sweden has also seen attempts to outlaw the import of kosher meat.
Some Swedish opponents of slaughter without stunning say it’s cruel, while others, often opponents of Muslim immigration, decry it as a custom that is foreign to Swedish traditions. Malmo, where a third of some 350,000 residents are immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, has a disproportionately high prevalence of antisemitic attacks, some related to Israel. This has led hundreds of Jews to leave the city. Financial and employment considerations have also contributed to this trend.
Until the mid-1980s, the Jewish community sold meat products directly in a kosher shop it had in the city’s centre. Amid downsizing, however, the shop was closed and the arrangement with ICA Kvantum reached.
“It was convenient to go Limhamn and buy kosher products there,” Edner said, naming the Malmo district where the shop that was raided sold meat. “Now we can’t do that anymore.”
Edner, a teacher, added that she has “no problems eating vegetarian, even vegan” in the absence of kosher meat.
“What I have a problem with is being forced to do so,” she said.