Several companies operating in the halal industry have questioned support from the RSPCA into the compulsory labelling of pre-stunned halal products.
Members of the sector have demanded to know why only religious slaughter should be identified as such, after the animal protection group urged members of European Parliament to sign a written declaration that calls for compulsory method of slaughter labelling on non-stunned meat and poultry products.
Advisor to the Yorkshire Asian Business Association Naved Syed told Meat Info that the RSPCA had failed to respect religious views, while singling out "Muslim and Jewish communities as easy targets".
Echoing this sentiment, Mohammad Amir - chief executive officer of Assure IP - said although he supports the RSPCA programme of improved labelling, questions had been raised as to why the process should apply solely to slaughtered animals.
"Food labels should be meaningful and balanced and, if a welfare label is desired, then it should incorporate welfare concerns throughout the whole of the animal’s life and not just a specific slaughter methods impacting its last few seconds or minutes," he explained.
The RSPCA said it would rather ensure all animals are pre-stunned before they are killed. However, the organisation said labelling that clearly differentiates between animals that have been stunned or have not is a "step in the right direction".
It went on to note that religious beliefs and practices should be respected, but noted that consumers should have the choice on whether or not they wish to buy meat from animals that are killed in this particular way.
The issue is one that continues to divide members of the public and industries around the UK. Some groups have argued that the rules should also apply to non-halal meats, in order to give consumers more information about the products they are purchasing.