Markets are back in the news: Bianca has had a go at new, roughty-toughty Market Inspector Aleks Shirov about closing the Albert Square gaff. Rumour has it the Council are planning to close it down to encourage Cityboy bankers to move in, but there’ll be no Borough Market in Walford. Great stuff – Pete Beale would have been proud of her.

Meanwhile the Danish government has stirred up another hornets nest by banning so-called ‘ritual slaughter’ i.e. cutting an animal’s throat to bleed it dry without stunning it beforehand. Slaughter without stunning beforehand is banned under EU animal welfare legislation but Countries are allowed to apply exemptions for religious purposes e.g. for shechita (‘Kosher’) and dhabihah (‘Halal’) meat.

This has outraged Jewish and Muslim religious groups unable to obtain meat slaughtered in accordance with their dietary rules.

The UK applies those exemptions so long as they don’t cause ‘unnecessary suffering’ but Danish minister for agriculture Dan Jørgensen followed the lead of Sweden and Norway by announcing ‘Animal rights come before religion’. This has outraged Jewish and Muslim religious groups unable to obtain meat slaughtered in accordance with their dietary rules. Al Jazeera quoted monitoring group Danish Halal which is fighting the ban as saying it is ‘a clear interference in religious freedom which limits the rights of Muslims and Jews to practice their religion in Denmark’. That’s not quite the message that countries want to put across to ethnic minorities.

A perfectly healthy but unwanted 18-month old giraffe – who was shot dead in Copenhagen zoo.

Someone has suggested the Danish Government should have been equally concerned about the welfare of poor Marius – a perfectly healthy but unwanted 18-month old giraffe – who was shot dead in Copenhagen zoo a week earlier despite worldwide outrage. He was then fed to the lions.

HM Government has confirmed it will continue to enforce EU animal welfare legislation whilst continuing to allow religious exemptions. In reality many of the approved slaughtermen do follow ‘best practice’ guidelines issued by the religious authorities, some of which even involve stunning, but the government continues to fight off pressure from the British Veterinary Association. Even the RSPCA recognises the need for compromise and it and the English Beef and Sheep Association are asking instead for specific Kosher and Halal labelling – one for ‘pre-stunned’ and one for ‘non-stunned’ – so the consumer can choose. John Blackwell, the president elect of the British Veterinary Association supports that, saying: ‘The proposals are all about choice – if people want to consume kosher or halal and they don’t have a strong opinion about stunning then they would have freedom of choice’. That sounds very sensible.

HM Government should consider itself lucky. In the Netherlands the government has to argue legislation through a 12-Party(!) parliament which includes the ‘Party for the Animals’ http://www.partyfortheanimals.nl. This is not a stag weekend in Amsterdam but a serious political organisation with clout – especially at local government level when it tends to gang up with the GreenLeft party to force through animal welfare issues.

‘it looks like a scene from a horror movie’

Another person who has stirred up controversy is Richard Nicholson of JBS Butchers, Sudbury who hangs an impressive display of rabbit, duck, pheasant, goose and pigs heads in his shop window. So much so that some locals consider ‘it looks like a scene from a horror movie’ whilst others say ‘if you live in a farming community what do you expect?’

Some pics and a Daily Mail storyline might not all be good publicity. I spend a lot of time poking around butchers stalls and coldrooms and I can’t help thinking this might backfire on him. Is that a pork joint I see on the counter, lying uncovered beneath the hanging rabbits? People might like a bit of game ‘in the fur’ but they’re not too keen on buying joints that have been lying underneath it. Remember CIEH Food Hygiene, Level 2? – I’m sure the EHO does.

Whether you like it or not most shoppers are conditioned by what they see in supermarket cabinets and don’t buy rabbits, ducks and geese ‘in the feather’ before taking them home to dress them – they expect the butcher to do the dirty work. We all know where it comes from and a lot of people just don’t like having their noses rubbed in it. My butcher hangs the furry bits behind a glass screen but keeps a plastic pheasant on the counter with a label round its neck. That gets the sales message across.

Of course if you feel really strongly about animal welfare then you can be a vegetarian. Not that it helped poor Marius.

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