INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Halal meat from animals slaughtered by religious ritual without having first been stunned cannot be labelled organic, on animal welfare grounds, a top European Union court ruled Tuesday.
The way the meat is slaughtered "fails to observe the highest animal welfare standards", said the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
The case came to the court after the OABA, a French association promoting animal welfare in abattoirs, urged the agriculture ministry to ban the labelling of such meat as organic.
French courts initially dismissed the OABA's case before passing it up to the CJEU for a definitive ruling.
"The Court recalls that scientific studies have shown that pre-stunning is the technique that compromises animal welfare the least at the time of killing," said an CJEU statement Tuesday.
Producers have to meet the highest animal welfare standards to qualify for the EU's organic label, the court noted.
So while the ritual slaughter of animals was allowed on grounds of religious freedom, if they were not first stunned then that did not meet the highest animal welfare standards.
The meat from such animals could not then qualify as organic.
The case will now go back to the Court of Appeal in Versailles, France, for a definitive ruling.