In the News: Ḥalāl Meat

Two weeks ago, the European Court of Justice—the EU’s highest court—ruled that meat derived from animals that were not stunned before being slaughtered could not be labeled “organic.”

The Court explained that the “organic” label was developed in response to consumers’ demand for food that protected animals’ welfare, and that scientific studies have shown that stunning is the least painful way of dying. Even using a sharp knife to quickly slit an animal’s throat—the method used by many ḥalāl and kosher butchers—was insufficient for ensuring the animals felt the least amount of pain.

Despite news headlines claiming “EU court rules halal meat cannot get organic label” (Associated Press) and “Halal meat cannot be labeled ‘organic,’ ECJ rules” (Deutsche Welle), the ruling was specifically regarding non-stunned animals. While there are different religious opinions on whether stunning is permitted under Islamic law, in the UK, for example, a government report published last month found that the vast majority of ḥalāl meat in the country was derived from animals that were stunned before being slaughtered.

Read the Court’s opinion here.