News From : DagangHalal.com (27 Oct 2010)
EBLEX moved to defend Halal meat processors in the UK after they became the focus of a national newspaper investigation which found the ritually slaughtered meat was being sold to consumers at restaurants and sporting venues around the country.
The Mail on Sunday (MoS) revealed a number of venues including Wembley Stadium and Twickenham are selling the meat, prepared in accordance with Shariah law, without telling consumers.
The claims drew criticism from groups such as Viva and the RSPCA, which oppose Halal meat on welfare grounds, claiming the practice involves slaughtering animals without stunning.
But Eblex said the opposition was largely based on misconceptions, with the vast majority of UK Halal abattoirs stunning animals prior to slaughter.
Peter Hardwick, head of marketing at Eblex said: “It is a common misconception – Halal meat does not have to be produced without stunning and in fact there are many Muslim countries were animals are stunned prior to slaughter.
“The requirement is that the animal must be healthy prior to being slaughtered. It also has to be slaughtered by someone who is allowed to do so under Muslim law – there is nothing to say it must not be stunned.”
Both Red Tractor and Eblex’s Quality Standard Mark appear on some Halal meat and Mr Hardwick said it was mandatory for those processors to use stunning as well as adhering to strict animal welfare rules.
The MoS investigation found all the beef, lamb and chicken sold at Wembley Stadium is Halal, while three quarters of chicken sold at hotel and restaurant group Whitbread – which owns Beefeater and Brewers Fayre chain outlets – was also Halal.
Both outlets did not tell consumers they were being sold Halal meat, leading to claims they were being ‘misled’. A number of schools and colleges were also exposed as providing students with Halal meat without informing them of its origin.
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) said there were still concerns over the proportion of Halal meat which was not stunned prior to slaughter.
Professor Bill Reilly, president of the BVA said: “Whilst we understand the need to respect religious freedoms the BVA believes that all animals should be stunned before slaughter to ensure the highest possible welfare for the animals.
“The exemption for religious slaughter should therefore be kept to a minimum. Meat from animals slaughtered according to these religious rules should not used in the mainstream market, particularly if it is not labelled as such.”
The latest revelations will raise serious questions over how much information is given to consumers to help them make informed choices about the food they buy.
Earlier this year the European Commission voted in favour of new labelling laws which could introduce mandatory rules forcing manufacturers to identify meat which has been produced without stunning.
Prof Reilly welcomed the moves and said it was vital consumers are given as much information as possible when making choices over which products to buy.
– Halal Journal