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UK: Defra withdraws stun legislation at eleventh hour

Defra’s decision to halt implementation of new EU regs on stunning have been welcomed by British poultry producers.

Stunning

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has suspended the application of an EU legislation which mandated higher currents (amperage) for poultry stunning in abattoirs in the UK, one day prior to its implementation, as a result of the judicial review that was launched by more than 20 slaughterhouse owners.

In a dramatic turn of events, the decision to implement the regulation was revoked today after it was initially confirmed to come in force on Friday the 16th of May. This means that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is not going to possess the legal basis to impose any of the powers.

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), the initiator of the legal proceedings and the Halal Authority Board (HAB) have been contesting against the new legislation due to the possibility of birds dying as the amperage of the current during the stun operation is increased (which could potentially be unacceptable for halal slaughter) and increased costs to suppliers.

Such was the timing of the decision by Defra to revoke the new regulations and the launch of the judicial review by the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS), and the Halal Authority Board (HAB), that it can hardly be seen as a coincidence.

Norman Bagley, policy director at AIMS told Meat Trades Journal: “The decision to withdraw is obviously directly connected to the judicial review which was launched some weeks ago.”

However a Defra spokesperson said: “We want to give it some further consideration. It’s not linked to the juidicial review, it’s a complicated issue and we wanted to give it more thought.”

A representative of the Halal Authority Board (HAB), was unconvinced with Defra’s eagerness to usher in the legislation.

“Muslims would not agree to this new form of stunning. Defra has no experience of working in abattoirs, and there was no prior consultation or dialogue, they just went ahead with it. Unless they work with the Muslim community, they can’t get anywhere? They are absolutely overlooking the halal market, they only take heed when you take them to the courtroom.”

An AIMS spokesperson was likewise dissatisfied and said that it was fantastic victory of stunning proportions, but expressed their disappointment as they believe the situation was caused by Defra’s lack of understanding and incompetence.

“Why Defra got themselves into this mess in the first place is beyond his understanding and as far as we are concerned well documented. Quite simply, whoever gave the veterinary advice should be held to account as the whole thing was a farce once defending the indefensible took over from common sense and dogma”, Bagley stated further.

Updated: 3rd June 2014

Defra’s decision to halt implementation of new EU regs on stunning have been welcomed by British poultry producers. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has suspended the application of an EU legislation which mandated higher currents (amperage) for poultry stunning in abattoirs in the UK, one day prior to its implementation, as a result of the judicial review that was launched by more than 20 slaughterhouse owners. In a dramatic turn of events, the decision to implement the regulation was revoked today after it was initially confirmed to come in force on Friday the 16th of May.…

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