Advocate General Nils Wahl has advised that EU organic production laws do not insist that animals be stunned before slaughter but rather that their suffering be minimised.
In his report, Wahl said the legislation “says relatively little about the standards applicable to the slaughter of animals and does not prohibit slaughter without stunning, as it is only required that, during slaughter, any suffering is to be kept to a minimum”.
Request for a ban
This comes following a 2012 case in which French association Œuvre d’Assistance aux Bêtes d’Abattoirs (OABA) submitted to French Minister for Agriculture and Food Stéphane Le Foll a request for a ban on the use of ‘organic farming’ in the advertising and marketing of minced beef products that were certified ‘halal’ from animals slaughtered without pre-stunning.
The request was turned down, but the case currently sits with the Administrative Court of Appeal in Versailles, France, which has asked if the two indicators were compatible under EU law.
Wahl dismissed any question of interference with the freedom of worship that might be posed by the perceived difficulty of combining the ‘organic farming’ certification with the indication ‘halal’. He suggested that the possibility of eating products bearing those two certifications did not relate to the practice of a ‘religious rite’.
Incompatible with organic farming
He added that the inability to obtain meat labelled ‘organic farming’ from slaughterhouses that did not practise stunning did not affect the religious prescriptions, which did not require the consumption solely of products of organic farming.
Wahl added that stating ritual slaughter was incompatible with organic farming would mean “adding a condition not provided for in the current rules”, which would “deny consumers of kosher or halal products the right to benefit from the guarantees provided by the ‘organic farming label’ in terms of quality and food safety”.
A decision on the issue is pending from the Court.