Supermarkets and big restaurant chains are routinely selling unlabelled halal meat products to unsuspecting customers, according to a survey by the Daily Mail. Over 70 percent of New Zealand lamb sold in supermarkets is halal, but this is not mentioned on the label.
Abattoirs have switched to producing halal meat as it is cheaper to make everything halal because it can then be sold to both Muslims and non-Muslims. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer all confirmed that they do sell imported halal meat.
Yesterday Breitbart London uncovered evidence that the chain Ask considered not wanting to eat halal meat a “special dietary requirement”. But it seems they are not the only restaurant chain to fail to tell customers they are eating halal food. Domino’s, Nando’s and the Slug and Lettuce all use halal products but this is not obvious on the menus.
Chains such as Pizza Express do put information on their website but this is often hard to find and raises the question of why they do not feel able to put it on menus. Subway removed bacon from 200 of it branches after pressure from Muslim customers.
Whilst halal food is not dangerous in any way, some animals are not stunned before being slaughtered, which is considered cruel. Around 19 percent of halal sheep are not stunned before slaughter, along with 16 percent of cattle and 12 percent of poultry.
Also, consumers have complained that they want to be told what is halal so they can make an informed choice about whether to buy the product. But the British Retail Consortium defended the actions of supermarkets, claiming that halal meat that is stunned need not be labelled.
The director of food at the group, Andrew Opie, said: “As the overwhelming majority of meat sold in UK supermarkets is own brand and from animals that have been stunned prior to slaughter we do not see the requirement to separately label meat based on the method of slaughter.
“However, if the Government believes there is a need for more information on meat for those animals that have not been pre-stunned we would be happy to have further discussion in the context of animal welfare.”
Peter Stevenson, from Compassion in World Farming, said: “We don’t believe that religious freedom should extend to the point of causing unnecessary suffering.
“If you are going to have an exemption to normal rules for religious slaughter, then we believe that meat should be labelled when it gets into the wider food chain.”
Whilst there has been outrage in the press over the last few days on this issue the supermarkets seem unwilling to take action. However, the government may well step in and there is an epetition for those who want the government to act.