French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has declared that the rise in Campylobacter and E.coli cases in Europe was “directly related” to an alleged increase in ritual slaughterings, which she called a “sanitary bomb”.
The Front National (FN) leader called for stunning to be made mandatory “regardless of the mode of slaughter”. She cited an EFSA report on food-borne diseases published last month, which stated that Campylobacter and E.coli cases were on the rise on Europe, and linked it to an alleged increase in ritual slaughterings, which has caused controversy over the past two months in France.
Le Pen said that ritual slaughter involved cutting the animal’s oesophagus at the same time as its carotid, leading bacteria present in the digestive system, such as E.coli and Campylobacter, to mix with the blood and the rest of the carcase, and increasing the risk of contamination.
She added that the rise in cases could not be linked to machinery or worker hygiene as, in the same time period as these two infections went up, Salmonella, which is transmitted through skin contact, water or equipment, went down.
She also pointed out that although Campylobacter is also present in pigs, widespread contamination is limited to poultry.
“As an elected representative and a mother, I refuse to compromise on the health of my fellow citizens for other interests, mainly financial. How many children will the government let die before it enforces the law by making stunning mandatory regardless of the mode of slaughter?,” Le Pen said.
According to French health website Destination Santé, the sanitary issue of cutting the animal’s oesophagus in ritual slaughter was already brought up in 2008, when the head of the agriculture ministry’s meat processing department, Pascale Dunoyer, pointed out that “the practices related to ritual slaughtering can have consequences in terms of the healthiness and safety of carcases”. She cited the slicing of the trachea and oesophagus, “which can lead to the spillage of gastric content on meat”.