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Faith leaders call for clearer packaging of meat
5 months ago

Hanging cattle carcasses

Faith leaders have called for clearer packaging after it emerged some meat is sold which could qualify as halal and kosher but is not labelled as such.

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One of four supermarkets selling such meat says the only difference is that the animal is blessed as it is killed.

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In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, members of Jewish organisation Shechita UK and the Muslim Council of Britain called for "comprehensive labelling".

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The government said it wanted people to be able to make informed choices.

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Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op said their New Zealand lamb is halal-slaughtered while Pizza Express has already revealed their chicken is killed according to Islamic tradition.

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Tesco said most exported New Zealand lamb was processed according to Islamic tradition because much of the meat ended up in the Middle East.

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The company said all the animals were stunned before slaughter with the only difference being that halal meat was blessed as it was killed. Tesco said that because it does not specify this is done "it would be misleading for all customers to label the meat as halal".

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Ritual slaughter is lawful in the UK and the EU to satisfy the dietary requirements of Jews and Muslims.

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'Comprehensive labelling'

In the letter, Henry Grunwald, chairman of Shechita UK, which represents the Jewish method of religious slaughter, and Dr Shuja Shafi, deputy secretary general for the Muslim Council of Britain, called for clear labelling of products.

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They wrote: "Consumers should be informed whether an animal has been mechanically stunned before being slaughtered and whether it has endured repeat stuns if the first attempt was ineffective.

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"They should also be told the method of slaughter: captive bolt shooting, gassing, electrocution, drowning, trapping, clubbing or any of the other approved methods.

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"Comprehensive labelling should be supported by faith communities and animal welfare groups alike."

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Stunning of livestock was introduced in the England in 1929 and has been mandatory in the the EU since 1979, although member states can grant exemptions for religious slaughter.

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Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming, says the UK is "behind the curve" on banning the slaughter of animals which haven't been stunned.

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Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming, says the UK is "behind the curve" on banning the slaughter of animals which haven't been stunned.

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He said: "I absolutely think labelling is a great way to go as an interim step.

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"But it is no substitute for accepting the scientific evidence... that slaughtering animals by cutting their throat whilst they are fully conscious is cruel and causes immense suffering.

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"Therefore, it should have no part in our society," he added.

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Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability for the British Retail Consortium said: "All our members have confirmed all their own brand fresh meat is from animals that have been pre-stunned before slaughter.

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"Some of our members do sell branded halal and kosher certified meat produced by specialist companies and clearly labelled.

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"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."

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'Informed choices'

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said it had contributed to an EU study into the compulsory labelling of halal and kosher meat and planned to review options for the UK once this is finalised in the summer.

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"We want people to have the information they need to make informed choices about the food they buy," a spokesman said.

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He added: "There are strict laws in place to ensure welfare standards are met during slaughter.

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"Although we would prefer animals to be stunned before slaughter, we respect the rights of Jewish and Muslim communities to eat meat in accordance with their beliefs.

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"The government has no intention of banning religious slaughter."

Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming, says the UK is "behind the curve" on banning the slaughter of animals which haven't been stunned.

He said: "I absolutely think labelling is a great way to go as an interim step.

"But it is no substitute for accepting the scientific evidence... that slaughtering animals by cutting their throat whilst they are fully conscious is cruel and causes immense suffering.

"Therefore, it should have no part in our society," he added.

5 months ago

Graphic

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Religious slaughter

  • Jewish method called shechita
  • Muslim method called dhabiha
  • Stunning prohibited in Jewish law, which says animals must be healthy and uninjured at the time of slaughter
  • Islamic law also says animals must be uninjured, but some authorities allow a form of stunning (in the UK, dhabiha usually involves stunning)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27322350

What is halal meat?
5 months ago

Chicken

Most halal chickens are stunned, Defra says

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There have been calls for clearer labelling of halal products in shops, restaurants and takeaways. But what is halal food? And why are campaigners so concerned?

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What is halal meat?

Halal is Arabic for permissible. Halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran.

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The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry, dhabiha, involves killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe.

Slaughterhouse

UK slaughterhouses must be completely halal compliant

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Animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and all blood is drained from the carcass. During the process, a Muslim will recite a dedication, know as tasmiya or shahada.

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Stunning cannot be used to kill an animal, according to the Halal Food Authority (HFA), but it can be used if the animal survives and is then killed by halal methods.

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How widespread is stunning?

The RSPCA says slaughter without pre-stunning causes "unnecessary suffering".

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UK Food Standards Agency figures from 2011 suggest 84% of cattle, 81% of sheep and 88% of chickens slaughtered for halal meat were stunned before they died.

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Supermarkets selling halal products say they stun all animals before they are slaughtered. Tesco says the only difference between the halal meat it sells and other meat is that it was blessed as it was killed.

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Stunning of livestock has been mandatory in the the EU since 1979, although member states can grant exemptions for religious slaughter.

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Some countries, including Denmark, have opted to ban non-stunning slaughter altogether. The UK government says it has no intention of banning religious slaughter.

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Is it different from kosher meat?

Kosher food complies with Jewish dietary law (kashrut), again governing what can and cannot be eaten by those practicing the faith.

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There are similarities in the method of slaughter but also distinct differences. For instance, Jewish law strictly forbids the use of stunning. A kosher slaughterman must also be specially trained and use a surgically sharp knife.

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Meats are not blessed in the same way - for example, unlike for halal, kashrut does not require God's name to be said before every slaughter. Kashrut also forbids the consumption of certain parts of the carcass, which is not the case for halal.

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What are the rules on labelling?

Currently, there is no requirement for halal or kosher meat to be specifically labelled.

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Why are retailers and restaurants selling it?

By ensuring food meets halal criteria, retailers and restaurants are making their products suitable for the UK's Muslim population.

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Under HFA guidelines, slaughterhouses must be completely halal compliant.

Halal stallThe global halal food and lifestyle industry is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars
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That means they cannot have some areas that meet standards and others which do not.

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The HFA says many slaughterhouses will have chosen to move to halal processes so they do not lose Muslim customers.

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The latest census suggests there are 2.7 million Muslims in the UK, with a spending power estimated in the region of £20bn.

5 months ago

How widespread is halal in the UK?

A number of supermarkets including Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Morrisons, and the Co-op all sell halal lamb. Some Waitrose lamb products are given a Halal blessing, but are not supplied separately and are therefore not considered halal on the shelves, the chain said.

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The Sun newspaper prompted a debate after running a front page reporting that all chicken served at Pizza Express was halal and customers were not being told.

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The HFA estimates 15% of all meat slaughtered in the UK is halal compliant.

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What changes are being suggested?

Campaigners and politicians are calling for clearer labelling of halal products to give consumers more information on how their food is prepared.

Halal meatCampaigners say labelling is a matter of choice
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Jewish and Muslim leaders agree, and have called for "comprehensive labelling" of meat.

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They say consumers should be told whether an animal has been stunned before being slaughtered, along with the method of slaughter.

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Stunning of livestock

  • Introduced in England in 1929 with mechanically operated stunner device
  • Mandatory in EU since 1979, but exemptions can be granted for religious slaughter
  • Method enables abattoirs to process animals more quickly
  • Mis-stuns involving captive bolt occur "relatively frequently", European Food Safety Authority report says - leaving animal conscious and in pain
  • Animals can also regain consciousness

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27324224

5 months ago

What matters to me is that how an animal is slaughtered is done as humanely as possible. It makes zero difference to me if a prayer or blessing is said over it or not. If the Islamic way is inhumane and counter to UK laws then it should not be permitted. It harms me not if a blessing is said. To some that is important, but the method of slaughter should matter to them a great deal more. Humane slaughter checks blessings if it is said while being cruel in the process.

Halal & Kosher food should be labelled as such.  Kosher food is always labelled in the US as far as I'm aware of.

5 months ago

"...Because of the myriad changes and advances in the food market, it has become an absolute necessity for food production facilities wishing to serve the kosher consumer to obtain certification from a reliable certifying agency. The role of kosher supervision is to check the source of all ingredients, provide for the kosher status of any equipment used to process the product, and to set up a system by which the integrity of both ingredients and equipment is maintained. The certification agency will also determine if the product contains dairy ingredients or is produced on equipment used for dairy products, to alert the consumer and preclude unintentional mixing of meat and dairy. A quality certifying organization is staffed by Rabbinically ordained supervisors who have years of education and experience and are able to deal with questions and problems in the facility as they arise.

Each kosher certification agency has its own symbol, which you may have noticed on food packages. The symbols are registered trademarks and cannot be placed on a food label without the organization's authorization. The letter "K" by itself is generally an unreliable identifying mark, since it often has no Rabbi or certifying organization backing up the company's claim to kosher status. A majority of all prepackaged foods today have some kind of kosher certification, and most major brands have reliable Orthodox certification.

It is interesting to note, a significant sector of the market for kosher products is composed of people who are not interested in the kosher aspect at all. Kosher certification is a buying card for many Muslims, Seventh Day Adventists and vegetarians. People who are allergic to grain products stock up each year on the grain-free Kosher for Passover products available. In addition, many people prefer kosher products because they believe them to be cleaner, healthier or better than their non-kosher counterparts..."

http://www.kof-k.org/kosher

5 months ago

Sandy, I have done a there is Laws and Regulations set down in the UK, It is a very long document as yourself will expect, the link is as follows Slaughter of livestock: welfare regulations

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if the Muslams were slaughtering for themselves they would not be breaking the Law, however, this is not the case, all the major super markets in the UK sell only  Halal Meat, and this needs to stopped, David Cameron 'won't intervene on labels'

but, Mr Cameron is going to findout, he will have to intervene,

5 months ago

Ray, I understand what you are saying.  It, again, is simple, when in Rome you do as the Romans do.  It is the principal that will set precedent that has to be protected here.  If you have laws that regulate the slaughter, butchering and packaging of meat, then anyone living in that Country has to follow the laws and regulations; they are there as much for health and safety as anything else.  

So if the Muslims do not like the laws or regulations and want special provisions, they can go back to their native Country and all is fine.  No one has the right to come into a Country and take over and dictate conditions; it is inexcusable and cannot and should not be allowed.  Political correctness or no political correctness, this is wrong and Cameron had better step up and do what is right, he should intervene as he is responsible to the citizens of the U.K., not to immigrants or temporary residents.  If these people want it different, become a citizen and then follow the laws and procedures to try to get the laws and regulations changed; but do not step in and demand they be changed; no one has the right.

5 months ago

Exactly, Linda!   They have their own culture but they cannot force that on others. 

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