The EU’s organic symbol may not be used on produce from animals that were slaughtered without being stunned, in accordance with ‘halal’ religious rites, a ruling from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has found
The case follows a request from French abattoirs to the French Government to ban the organic label on such produce.
The case was initially defeated in court when taken in 2012 by the French association Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs (OABA).
It wanted a ban on the use of the ‘organic farming’ symbol in the packaging and promotion of certified ‘halal’ minced beef patties.
After an appeal to a higher French court, the CJEU was asked to adjudicate on the matter.
In its decision, the CJEU said: “The organic production logo of the European Union cannot be placed on meat derived from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with religious rites without first being stunned.
“Such a practice fails to observe the highest animal-welfare standards.”
The judgment says that EU law requires high commitment to animal welfare throughout the life cycle, including at the point of dispatch.
The court pointed to studies which show that stunning before slaughter has the least compromising effect on animal welfare.
It said ritual slaughter is authorised by way of derogation in the EU on the grounds of freedom of religion, but it does not remove the animal’s pain, distress and suffering as effectively as pre-stunning.
Cutting the animal’s throat without pre-stunning does not minimise suffering, it found.
Therefore, ‘halal’ slaughter does not serve a high level of animal welfare, which is, in principle, required by EU law.
EU’s rules on the labelling of organic products is to maintain and justify “consumer confidence in products labelled as organic”, the court declared.
Such produce must have actually been obtained in observance of the highest standards, in particular of animal welfare, the judgment says.