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Labelling (Meat Products)

Volume 525: debated on Thursday 17 March 2011

12. What recent progress her Department has made on labelling meat products by method of slaughter; and if she will make a statement. (47207)

As part of our implementation of the new welfare at slaughter regulations, which will come into force in January 2013, I shall be meeting all interested parties during the course of this year, and this will of course include discussion of possible labelling aspects of the issue.

Many of my constituents who are concerned about animal welfare are worried that they are unknowingly eating meat from animals that might not have been pre-stunned during slaughter, and supermarkets simply will not provide the information. Does the Minister agree that labelling is the simplest solution to the problem? Will he reassure my constituents that he will push for implementation as soon as possible?

The Government strongly believe that consumers should be properly informed about what they are buying. It is also true that the Government believe, overall, that animals should be stunned before slaughter, but we recognise that the Jewish and Muslim communities like some of their meat to be produced differently. The challenge for labelling is traceability. As my hon. Friend is probably aware, the vast majority of meat slaughtered under halal conditions is pre-stunned, so the issue is not quite as straightforward as some people believe.