Here’s the front page of today’s Daily Mail.
The notion that halal meat is being secretly served to us is obviously concerning for some.
It’s also a complex debate. BuzzFeed looks at it here.
However, in case anyone thinks this is a new issue, there’s at least one way customers could have found out that it’s not mandatory for meat to be labelled as such. And that’s by reading the Daily Mail and its sister paper, the Mail on Sunday.
Not only have both papers repeatedly raised the issue of halal food labelling, in 2010 the Mail on Sunday even ran an investigation and named many of the companies in today’s story. The story then shifted on, beyond the supermarkets, to the sale of the meat in schools, hospitals, pubs and other institutions.
In the last four years, the issue’s been raised no fewer than 11 times. And that’s just in those two newspapers: there are similar results for a whole load of others.
1. Mail on Sunday, September 19, 2010: “Why We Should Be Told If We’re Eating Halal”.
This is an age of immensely detailed food labelling, of great concern for animal welfare and of great sensitivity about the origins of meat and the way in which it has been reared and cared for.
Even a packet of nuts must be adorned with the words may contain nuts . Careful shoppers, especially those concerned with the way in which animals are treated, will often refuse to buy meat that is not free-range or assuming that they can afford it organic.
So it is astonishing that countless Britons are currently being served Halal meat without their knowledge. Some are paying customers, while others are captive consumers in schools or hospitals.
2. Daily Mail, September 25, 2010: “70% Of New Zealand’s Lamb Is Halal”.
More than 70 per cent of the New Zealand lamb sold in Britain comes from halal slaughterhouses without the fact being declared on the label.
3. Mail on Sunday, September 26, 2010: “Top Supermarkets Secretly Sell Halal”.
Those stocking meat slaughtered according to Islamic law include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield and the Co-op.
And a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that fast-food chains including Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, KFC, Nando’s and Subway are also using halal meat without telling customers.
But the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, Asda, has refused to confirm or deny whether it sells halal meat.
4. Mail on Sunday, September 26, 2010: “They Have To Tell Us What We’re Eating”.
To cover the increasing demand for halal meat, these corporate slaughterhouses have either had to introduce halal methods or buy in halal meat from specialist butchers.
The choice is either to introduce a separate production line or to take the cost-cutting option of having just one production line.
But in this one-size-fits-all world, it’s not the most humane and dignified method of slaughter Z the one enshrined in British and EU law Z that wins out. No, the ‘one-size’ is the less humane method of killing tailored to the religious demands of just four per cent of the population. Since it is not illegal to palm off halal meat on non-Muslims, that is being done on a massive scale. And there is nothing the Government or the EU can or will do about it.
5. Mail on Sunday, November 11, 2010: “Halal Meat Is Being Served In Schools, Hospitals And Pubs - Even Though Vets Say Islamic Slaughter Is Cruel. The Mail Went Undercover At An Abbatoir To Find The Truth”.
A few hours before dawn, and even through the inky blackness it is clear this is no ordinary warehouse. Outside the building, gusts of wind send hay and straw flying, and the air is thick with the acrid sent of manure.
Despite the darkness, I can see blood trickling down the gutters and a group of men clutching knives. Every so often, the eerie scene is punctured by the sound of lambs bleating.
(Continues for 2,000 words).
6. Richard Littlejohn column, January 21, 2011:
Many people are now genuinely concerned about the past decade of Islamic expansionism. Rightly or wrongly, they fear the transformation of British society in some areas, from the intrusive call to prayer in the inner cities to the ubiquity of halal meat in supermarkets.
7. Mail on Sunday, February 13, 2011: “Don’t Force Pupils To Eat Halal, C of E Tells Schools”.
The Church of England has told its schools to ensure they are serving non-halal food after concerns that a number are providing only meat slaughtered according to Islamic law.
The moves follow disclosures by The Mail on Sunday last year that halal products were widespread in schools, hospitals, pubs and sporting venues but members of the public were not informed.
More than 10,000 Christians, many of whom have reservations about eating meat from animals that are bled to death while an Islamic prayer is recited, have signed a petition calling for proper labelling.
8. Mail on Sunday, January 1, 2012: “We Won’t Eat Halal Meat, Say MPs and Peers”.
The Mail on Sunday revealed schools, hospitals and restaurants were serving halal meat to unwitting customers.
9. Mail on Sunday, March 25, 2012: “Now They’ll Have To Tell Us If We’re Eating Halal”.
The Government is drawing up plans to prevent schools, hospitals, pubs and famous sporting venues from serving halal meat secretly to customers.
The move will be welcomed by animal rights campaigners, who argue that the traditional Islamic way of preparing meat which involves killing animals by drawing a knife across their throats without stunning them first is cruel and causes unnecessary pain.
It follows a Mail on Sunday investigation in September 2010 which discovered that beef, chicken and lamb had been sold to fans at Wembley without them knowing it had been prepared in accordance with sharia law.
10. Mail On Sunday, March 16, 2014: “Meat from Cattle Slaughtered in Cruel Kosher Ceremony Is In Your High Street Burger”.
Jewish law governing shechita strictly forbids pre-stunning, as do some Islamic groups for the production of halal meat […] the MoS can reveal that a number of abattoirs in the UK and Ireland that practise shechita are selling these unholy’ parts to British suppliers and retailers, including supermarkets and butchers. As a result, many consumers are buying their meat unaware of how it was produced.
11. Daily Mail, May 1, 2014: “Is Your Subway Replacing Ham With Halal Meat?”
However the British Veterinary Association and the RSPCA insist there is evidence to show animals suffer during traditional halal slaughter. They are concerned that British families are unwittingly eating meat from animals killed this way, as there is no requirement for supermarkets, restaurants or public bodies to say if their food is halal.
They are now calling for clear labelling of halal meat, so consumers can make a decision about whether to eat it or not. The RSPCA’s David Bowles said: We recognise that religious belief and practices should be respected but we also believe that animals should be slaughtered in the most humane way possible.’