Labelling of halal chicken

18 February 2013


Lucas Hartong (NI)


It was revealed today(1) that the majority of Dutch chicken fillets come from birds slaughtered in a halal manner, i.e. without stunning, even when this is not mentioned on the packaging. I quote: ‘To make things easier, so that the less popular parts of the chicken can be exported to Muslim countries, all chickens are slaughtered in a halal manner.’

1. Is it permissible under EC law (including Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011) for chickens to be slaughtered in a halal manner (i.e. without stunning) when this is not indicated on the label on the packaging?

2. Chickens are slaughtered without stunning in order to count as halal. For that purpose an imam has to be present. Under EU legislation, is an imam certified to carry out the slaughter of animals?


Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

8 April 2013 

The current EU food labelling legislation(1) does not require the information on the religious method used during the animal slaughtering to be provided on the label of meat and meat products. However, in accordance with Recital 50 of Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011(2) referred to by the Honourable Member, the Commission will perform a study on the opportunity to provide the consumer with information on the stunning of animals in the context of the Union strategy for the protection and welfare of animals adopted in 2012(3).

The qualification for Halal products is not regulated at EU level and it mainly depends on private schemes which vary among the Member States. However, the EU legislation(4) includes the possibility of not stunning animals for religious reasons, the implementation of this derogation being left to the Member States.

The most common method for stunning chicken in the EU (multiple waterbath stunning) can be used to deliver reversible stunning. Therefore, slaughter without stunning is not systematically used to produce Halal chicken, depending on the requirements of the Muslim clients.

(1)    Directive 2000/13/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 20 March 2000 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs, OJ L 109, 6.5.2000.
(2)    Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 of the Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, OJ L 304, 22.11.2011.
(3)    COM(2012)6 final.
(4)    Council Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 on the protection of animals at the time of killing, OJ L 303, 18.11.2009.