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UK Faiths Urge Halal Meat Labeling

07 May, 2014 22:34
UK Faiths Urge Halal Meat Labeling

According to retailers, the animals, blessed while being slaughtered, were also stunned before slaughtering.

LONDON – Responding to a new controversy surrounding meat labeling in UK, British religious leaders have called for labeling halal meat after reports claiming that UK markets were selling it without informing customers.

“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,” read the letter by religious Muslim and Jewish leaders to the Daily Telegraph, BBC reported on Thursday, May 8.

Recent reports claimed that well known UK supermarkets have been selling halal meat without providing clear labeling.

The list of supermarkets included, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and the Co-op that sell halal lamb exported from New Zealand.

Similar accusations were directed at Pizza Express saying it has been offering halal chicken.

According to retailers, the animals, blessed while being slaughtered, were also stunned before slaughtering.

The controversial reports prompted faith leaders’ calls to identify how the animal have been slaughtered, offering comprehensive labeling.

“They should also be told the method of slaughter: captive bolt shooting, gassing, electrocution, drowning, trapping, clubbing or any of the other approved methods,” faith leaders added in the letter.

“Comprehensive labeling should be supported by faith communities and animal welfare groups alike.”

The concept of halal, -- meaning permissible in Arabic -- has traditionally been applied to food.

Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.

Muslim scholars agree that Shari`ah provides a divine law of mercy that should be applied on all Allah’s creations, including animals.

Islam also provides details about avoiding any unnecessary pain.

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.

Though the current laws in UK allow slaughtering animals without prior stunning, a new EU directive on the protection of animals at the time of killing will come into force in the UK in 2013.

Stunned Animals

Defending the absence of halal label on their meats, supermarkets said that it would be misleading to label the meat as halal because they use stunning before slaughtering.

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

“Some of our members do sell branded halal and kosher certified meat produced by specialist companies and clearly labeled,” he added.

“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.”

Yet, calls by religious leaders to offer a comprehensive labeling were shared by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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

He added that the department has been working on an EU proposal that would impose halal meat labeling. The proposal would be ready by summer.

“There are strict laws in place to ensure welfare standards are met during slaughter,” the spokesman stated.

“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.

“The government has no intention of banning religious slaughter,” he added.

Last March, a proposal by Britain's leading vet to ban halal and kosher slaughter in UK has sparked angry condemnations from the Muslim and Jewish communities, arguing that any such ban would endanger their religious freedoms.


Source: http://www.onislam.net

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UK Faiths Urge Halal Meat Labeling
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