Meat from animals that were slaughtered under religious practices without being stunned first does not comply with the EU’s organic label because the animal welfare standards are not met, said a European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling.
The EU's organic label places high importance on animal welfare.
Scientific studies have shown that pre-stunning is the technique that “compromises animal welfare the least at the time of killing,” said the ruling.
Ritualistic practices, allowed under freedom of religion laws in the EU, kill the animal by slitting their throat in one swift movement. But for the ECJ this practice doesn't minimise the animal's pain enough.
The lack of anaesthesia in ritual slaughter means the animal suffers too much when killed to comply with the organic standard.
“The practice of ritual slaughter as part of which an animal may be killed without first being stunned, which is authorised by way of derogation in the European Union and solely in order to ensure observance of the freedom of religion, is insufficient to remove all of the animal’s pain, distress, and suffering as effectively as slaughter with pre-stunning,” said the court.
The ruling comes after a legal dispute in France where animal welfare activists from the Oeuvre d'Assistance aux Betes d'Abattoirs (OAB) wanted to ensure that steaks labelled as halal were no longer considered organically grown.
Halal meat and Jewish kosher slaughter practices are among the ritualistic practices affected by the ruling.