- Case was brought to court by French campaigners for animal welfare in abattoirs
- To qualify as organic, food has to be produced to the 'highest welfare standards'
- EU court agreed killing animals without stunning does not meet that standard
Halal meat from animals slaughtered without having been stunned cannot be labelled organic on 'welfare grounds', a top European Union court has ruled.
The way the meat is slaughtered 'fails to observe the highest animal welfare standards', according to 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 ministers 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 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 for a definitive ruling.