I want to talk, this week, about food. What could be more Jewish a subject? In my sermon I'll be trying to translate the sense of a holy relationship with our food into an approach to the myriad of decisions a careful consumer faces every time they walk an aisle or line their stomach.
In this note I want to relay information provided by Henry Grunwald, past-President of the Board of Deputies and Chairman of Shechita UK. In a letter to Rabbis from across the denominations Henry recently wrote;
"By now you will have heard that the European Parliament recently voted on an amendment to the EU Regulation on food information to consumers to in future label meat and meat products derived from animals that have been slaughtered by shechita, „meat from slaughter without stunning‟. This will significantly impact on the kosher meat industry, imperilling the economic viability of Shechita. The millions of tonnes of meat from animals which are not properly stunned or cruelly re-stunned by secular methods will not be required to be labelled. Labelling religiously and humanely slaughtered meat products in isolation is discrimination, and is designed to deter potential buyers.
"If cruelty to animals is an honest and proper concern of any consumer then all such labelling of meat and meat products if introduced, should in fairness be applied to all methods of slaughter used, which may include stunning by electrocution, captive-bolt or gassing. Consumers should also be entitled to know whether the meat came from an animal that had been mis-stunned or re-stunned, before it was slaughtered, if an informed choice is the true intent of this amendment. According to Compassion for World Farming (no supporter of Shechita), 9% of all meat slaughtered using conventional stunning in Europe is "mis-stunned" by the captive-bolt or electricity, causing additional and unnecessary pain and stress to animals. Research by the British Veterinary Association showed that 59% of sheep are mis-stunned, but the Regulation does not require labelling to indicate this. And Shechita accounts for only 0.037% of all animal slaughtered in Europe."
This is an invidious attack designed to cause maximum damage while appearing only minimally antisemitic. Meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, and even those who – dare it be said – don't keep kosher should all be alarmed.
For more information on the work of Shechita UK, please see www.shechitauk.org
Shabbat Shalom and B'tei Avon