Europe’s Jewish leaders on Thursday asked the European Union to back their call for a Polish ban on the ritual slaughter of animals for food to be overturned.
Jewish community and religious leaders from across Europe also urged the EU to review its own legislation on animal slaughter to strengthen the rights of Jews and Muslims to eat meat killed in line with their religious requirements.
The EU rules are designed to minimise suffering for animals when they are killed, but religious groups are exempted from a requirement that animals be stunned before death.
Kosher and halal slaughter require an animal to be killed by slitting its throat.
“We call on the European Commission and European Parliament to reinforce the directive (legislation) to allow Jews and Muslims to practise their religion,” said European Jewish Congress secretary-general Serge Cwajgenbaum.
He was speaking after urgent talks called in Brussels after Poland’s parliament on Friday rejected a government bill to overturn the ban.
Jewish leaders said Poland was the only country in the 28-nation EU to effectively ban the production of kosher food.
The ritual slaughter of animals for food has been banned there since January 1 after a constitutional court ruled it was incompatible with animal rights law.
The lawmakers’ rejection of the bill angered the Jewish community, farmers and companies that had exported kosher meat to Israel and halal meat to Muslim countries.