Waitrose is to introduce a range of non-halal lamb products as a response to customers’ concerns about its meat supplies.
Until now, all lamb sold by the store has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law, with a Muslim reciting a prayer in Arabic over the meat.
But Waitrose said last night that, from now on, organic Welsh lamb from its Duchy Originals range – established by Prince Charles to market produce from his estates – will no longer be halal.
Offering a choice: Lamb dishes on the Duchy Originals website - Watrose has responded to customers' concerns about its meat supplies
Waitrose said they made their decision in order to give customers ‘more choice’.
But their reversal of policy comes a week after The Mail on Sunday revealed how most British supermarkets were secretly selling halal meat – especially lamb – without telling customers.
The investigation found that most New Zealand lamb sold in major British supermarkets was halal, meaning that the prayer ‘In the name of Allah, who is the greatest’ is said at the time of slaughter. Stores selling lamb slaughtered according to Islamic law included Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
After inquiries by The Mail on Sunday last week, Waitrose said: ‘We have decided to offer our customers an option to buy lamb which has not received the halal blessing.’
Waitrose said that all their other lamb produced in the UK and New Zealand will continue to be halal without being described as such on the packaging.
The Duchy Originals Welsh lamb is one of the most expensive type of fresh meat sold by any British supermarket chain. A kilogram of half a leg of Duchy Originals lamb costs £9.69 online. By comparison, a kilogram of Waitrose’s own variety costs £9.49, and Tesco’s costs £7.97.
Duchy Originals was launched by Prince Charles in 1990. Over a year ago, Waitrose signed a deal which gave it a licence to sell the Duchy Originals range, along with independent shops.
When The Mail on Sunday asked Waitrose on Friday if Duchy Originals lamb was halal, they could not answer our questions immediately, but yesterday they unexpectedly announced their change of heart.
When asked if The Mail on Sunday’s proposed article prompted the change, the spokesman replied: ‘No, it’s something we have been considering all week.’ The news that Duchy Originals lamb was halal angered some of Waitrose’s regular customers.
Patricia Dunton, 67, from Totteridge, North London, said she had been shopping in Waitrose for more than 30 years. Speaking before the Waitrose announcement, she said: ‘As a devout Christian, I won’t buy Duchy Originals lamb ever again, and I won’t buy lamb from Waitrose.I don’t like the fact that an Islamic prayer has been said over it. It should have been labelled so that I know what I am buying.’
Last night a spokeswoman for the Prince, who will become Supreme Governor of the Church of England when he becomes king, said he was unaware the Duchy Originals lamb was being killed according to Muslim law.
A spokesman for Waitrose said that from tomorrow they will make efforts to tell their customers that the Duchy Originals lamb is no longer halal. But she said other Waitrose lamb would not bear the word halal on the label.
Other supermarkets will also continue to sell halal meat without identifying it, but some said they would make efforts to inform concerned customers who call them. A spokesman for Tesco said: ‘Pre-stunned meat produced to halal standards conforms to all our stringent hygiene and animal welfare standards.’
A Morrisons spokeswoman said: ‘All our fresh meat is 100 per cent British and non-halal. Only our frozen New Zealand lamb is halal.’
M&S said they will not label any of their Islamically slaughtered lamb as halal. But a spokesman said: ‘If customers contact us we will, of course, deal with their queries and provide the appropriate information.’
A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said they could not label any of their lamb as halal, as the abattoirs they source their lamb from do not have official Islamic certificates even if they kill animals according to strict Muslim law.
Food author Carina Norris said: ‘It’s good to know that supermarkets are listening to people and giving consumers a choice and diversity of range of products.’
Great information, John! I mean, who cares about Muslim law except the Muslims? They need to go back to their own countries and continue their lamb rituals.
Ray, great article and I would never have been aware of this so you just educated me to another new concept. I can't think of a reason why my lamb needs to be halal as I would think that would be rather hypocritical snce I am not Islamic.
I think that it speaks well that stores realize this and offer both. Better yet, let the Islamists open their own stores to seel their halal lamb and not force non-Islamic stores to do this. It is the way most things were done in the U.S. and still. I know that where I am from and I am sure in major cities around te U.S., there are little stores that are owned and operated by Germans, Jewish people, Italians, Sweds, Japanese, Chinese and even Mexicans that feature those items unique to their cooking and food and they are open to sell to anyone but make these products available to their own ethnic group. So the Islamists can do the same; no one cares. However, free enterprise states that no one sould be forced to sell anything they do not wish to sell in their store or to make special provision unless they wish to do so.
Thank you for this article Ray
Personally, I do not care if the lamb is halal or not as long as it is labeled as such and a grocer is not forced to sell it. I've bought Kosher food before, but it was labeled Kosher and the stores that carried it were not forced to do so.
I think the complaint the customer like myself who does shop at Waitrose, is making in relation to Halal Meat, this is our Country, we had a more Humane way of Killing Animals without the need for a Animal to be stressed up at the time of slaughter, in addition, when an Animals is stressed at the time of slaughter the end product is not so good, the taste is not the same,
I have always been of the opinion, with anyone from another Nation, comply with our Rules and Laws, if not, get out and stay out, one thing I cannot stand when Immigrants come to our Country they bring their own Law and Rules, and the way they do things, this is a major problem in the UK, and has been for a long time,
Ray, I would agree with you 100% on this; any country that I would visit I would expect, as a guest or even if I were to wish to move there, that I would adopt the language, the laws, the rules and not expect anyone to change for my benefit. It is rude and very wrong to expect otherwise.
As for the way the animals are slaughtered, you are right there, too. How the animal is stressed, the manner of the slaughter, etc. does affect the meat as does what it has been fed. I still maintain that if that is what the Muslim people wish to have, they can open their own shop to sell halal and they can also purchase the lambs from those that have them for sale at the going price.
I have a problem if Halal or Kosher means the lambs are inhumanely slaughtered, but what is the truth? I've read opposing opinions. If they are not slaughtered according to British law then it needs to be stopped. Just because something is allowed by a religion doesn't mean that a country's laws can be broken. I fully agree with you, Ray. If they were to follow British law, I see no reason though why it cannot be sold in non-Muslim grocery stores as long as it is labeled as such and sold at the discretion of the store owner.
Brain signals have shown that calves do appear to feel pain when slaughtered according to Jewish and Muslim religious law, strengthening the case for adapting the practices to make them more humane.
"I think our work is the best evidence yet that it's painful," says Craig Johnson, who led the study at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Johnson summarised his results last week in London when receiving an award from the UK Humane Slaughter Association. His team also showed that if the animal is concussed through stunning, signals corresponding to pain disappear.
The findings increase pressure on religious groups that practice slaughter without stunning to reconsider. "It provides further evidence, if it was needed, that slaughtering an animal without stunning it first is painful," says Christopher Wathes of the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council, which has long argued for the practice to end.Stunning result
In most western countries, animals must be stunned before they are slaughtered, but there is an exemption for religious practice, most prominently Jewish shechita and Muslim dhabiha. Animal welfare groups have long argued that on welfare grounds, the exemptions should be lifted, as they have been in Norway.
Johnson's work, funded by the UK and New Zealand agriculture ministries, builds on findings in human volunteers of specific patterns of brain electrical activity when they feel pain. Recorded with electroencephalograms, the patterns were reproducible in at least eight other mammal species known to be experiencing pain.
Johnson developed a way of lightly anaesthetising animals so that although they experienced no pain, the same electrical pain signals could be reliably detected, showing they would have suffered pain if awake.
The team first cut calves' throats in a procedure matching that of Jewish and Muslim slaughter methods. They detected a pain signal lasting for up to 2 minutes after the incision. When their throats are cut, calves generally lose consciousness after 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes longer.Cut-throat practice
The researchers then showed that the pain originates from cutting throat nerves, not from the loss of blood, suggesting the severed nerves send pain signals until the time of death. Finally, they stunned animals 5 seconds after incision and showed that this makes the pain signal disappear instantly.
"It wasn't a surprise to me, but in terms of the religious community, they are adamant animals don't experience any pain, so the results might be a surprise to them," says Johnson.
He praised Muslim dhabiha practitioners in New Zealand and elsewhere who have already adopted stunning prior to slaughter. They use a form of electrical stunning which animals quickly recover from if not slaughtered, proving that the stunned animal is "healthy", thereby qualifying as halal.Pressure drop
Representatives for both faiths responded by claiming that stunning itself hurts animals. A spokesman for Shechita UK says that the throat cut is so rapid that it serves as its own "stun", adding that there is abundant evidence shechita is humane.
"Shechita is instantaneous, and due to the immediate drop in blood pressure and [oxygen starvation] of the brain, the animal loses consciousness within 2 seconds," he says. "It conforms to the statutory definition of stunning, in that it is a process which causes the immediate loss of consciousness which lasts until death."
Ahmed Ghanem, a halal slaughterman based in New Zealand, says that blood doesn't drain properly from stunned animals, although this has been countered by recent research at the University of Bristol in the UK.
Ghanem cites a 1978 study relying on EEG measurements led by Wilhelm Schulze of the University of Hanover, Germany, apparently concluding that halal slaughter was more humane than slaughter following stunning. But Schulze himself, who died in 2002, warned in his report that the stunning technique may not have functioned properly.
First, according to Scripture the only issue here is not overtly and knowingly eating meat sacrificed to idols as much to avoid distressing less mature believers as to make a point. In short, 'Don't ask, don't tell' meets scriptural standards. If it is told, then it is off limits but not because the meat has the intrinsic capability to harm you spiritually, as the Moslems believe about eating pork directly causing you to go to Hell.
Second, as a believer in free market economics, a seller should be able to sell whatever he wants so long as he is truthful about the product. This is a critical issue in the difference between conservatives and liberals: If a conservative does not like or disapproves of a product, he doesn't buy it. If a liberal dislikes or disapproves of a product, he pushes for legislation prohibiting anyone from buying it.
Third, I am sick and tired of Moslems moving in with the expectation, both practically and religiously, of taking over progressing toward their Hell on Earth of a worldwide caliphate. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. If you don't like the way the Romans do things, then don't go to Rome.
In essence, then David, you agree that 1) if yoiu are in the UK or US or anywhere but your own native land, you do as their laws and rules specifiy or don't go there and 2) that no one should be expected to sell a product that does not meet their standards in a free market society. Therefore, if a store does not want to carry and sell halal in the U.K or anywhere else they do not have to do so and it makes no difference as they don't have to worry about labeling it as they don't have it.
If they do carry it, they it has to be labeled as such as the consumer has the right to know exactly what they are buying and if that doesn't meet the expectations of the Muslims, they don't have to buy there, either.
I am 100% with you and Ray, David. It is not the right of the person that comes to a country to change the laws to meet their demands;they either accept the rules and laws the way they are or they find somewhere else to live. It is pure and simple, cut and dried; and that is the way it is.
I take that to include language; if they go to a restaurant they speak the language and the menu is in the Country's language and if they can't read it, their problem, find someone that can read it to them and start taking lessons to learn the language of that Country. I woiuld expect to do that if I went to their Country; they need to do the same coming to mine.
As I understood this, the stores were expected to stock and sell halal which would deny the stores their right to decide in their own country.
This post was modified from its original form on 03 May, 14:53
This reminds me of choosing to buy "a free range happy chicken." A happy chicken is a succulent chicken if prepared correctly. I don't want chicken that has been constantly injected with "stuff" to be on my dining room table.
Now, if THIS chicken falls off his skateboard and hurts himself I want that "noted" (full disclosure) on the package. Know what I mean?
Well, you got me and I think I did wet my pants laughing, Diane. I better check, but need to stop lauging first.