LUXEMBOURG (DPA) - The European Union's top court is due to rule on Tuesday (Feb 26) on whether meat can be certified as organic if the animal was slaughtered without being stunned, in line with Islamic religious practices.
Many Muslims believe that for meat to be halal and acceptable for them to eat, the animal may not be stunned before it is killed - a practice that runs counter to standard rules on animal slaughter.
In 2012, a French association to protect slaughterhouse animals applied for a ban on granting the "organic farming" label to halal minced beef patties. The request was rejected, leading to a series of appeals.
The French court handling the case then turned to the European Court of Justice for help in interpreting EU laws.
A court adviser, advocate general Nils Wahl, argued in September that EU rules on organic production do not exclude the practice of ritual slaughter.
A decision that ritual slaughter is incompatible with the "organic farming" label would deny consumers of halal products - as well as kosher meat prepared along similar Jewish guidelines - the benefits of organic farming in terms of quality and food safety, Mr Wahl noted.
The judges tend to follow the advice of their advocate generals, although this is not always a given.
The German Animal Welfare Federation argued ahead of the ruling that slaughter without first stunning the animal causes them significant pain, while noting that this requirement does not always apply for halal meat.
The Quran specifies that animals must be treated gently, the federation further noted.