The European Court of Justice’s Grand Chamber has ruled that halal beef cannot carry an EU organic logo if the cows were not stunned before they were slaughtered. Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs v. Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation, No. C-497/17 (E.C.J., entered February 26, 2019). The court compared an organic-labeling regulation requiring efforts to preserve animal welfare during the slaughtering process with a regulation allowing religious rituals during slaughter.

“While it is true that [the regulation] permits the practice of ritual slaughter as part of which an animal may be killed without first being stunned, that form of slaughter, which is authorised only 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, which, in accordance with [the regulation], is necessary to cause the animal to lose consciousness and sensibility in order significantly to reduce its suffering,” the court stated. “[I]t is important to ensure that consumers are reassured that products bearing the Organic logo of the EU have actually been obtained in observance of the highest standards, in particular in the area of animal welfare.”

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