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Growing concern as British public is “misled” over halal meat

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Meat prepared according to Islamic law is being routinely served at some of the United Kingdom’s most popular sporting venues, pubs, schools and hospitals without the public’s knowledge.

It is reported that this controversial practice has been accepted by venues such as Wembley, Twickenham and Ascot.  Manchester United’s football ground also only serves halal meat.

Cheltenham College, which boasts of a “strong Christian ethos”, is one of several top public schools serving halal chicken. Daisyfield Primary in Blackburn, Lancs, was the first school in the country to serve meals that had been checked by a special halal food group.

Halal meat, prepared in accordance with Sharia law, requires the cutting of an animal’s throat, without stunning the animal first, during which process Islamic verses are recited.

Eblex, the organisation for the English beef and sheep industry which has set up the industry panel, the Halal Steering Group, reported that Islamic rituals were being broadcast over loudspeakers during the slaughtering process.

The claims come a week after the world’s largest airline catering firm, GateGourmet, said it is considering the possibility of making the majority of its meals halal. The Swiss-based company, which provides meals for all long-haul British Airways flights from Heathrow, wants to standardise production to drive down costs and boost profits. They are planning to open a $3 million halal catering facility at the airport.

Britain’s biggest hotel and restaurant group Whitbread, which owns the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre chains, among many others, has admitted that more than three-quarters of its poultry is now halal.

This disclosure raised serious questions over how much information is given to consumers to help them make informed choices about the food they consume .

Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford and secretary of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, said:

“I don’t object to people of different religious groups being catered for but it’s not something that should be imposed on everybody else.

“The vast majority of people in this country would not want meat of this origin. The outlets have a duty to let their customers know because some will object very strongly, not least because of the animal welfare implications of halal.”

In February 2010, a French fast food chain Quick also decided to serve only halal meat in its eight restaurants, sparking criticism from politicians that its menu discriminates against non-Muslims. The €5.5billion halal meat market in France is growing strongly, according to a survey carried out last December, citing increasing demand among young Muslims for halal produce.

On 26 July 2010, a conference organised by Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford discussed strategy of how to introduce and increase the sale and consumption of halal meat in the Western markets.


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