Welfare central to halal

Animal welfare is a top priority for the UK halal meat industry, a leading consultant told delegates at an EBLEX event in Milton Keynes.

Speaking at the launch of a new DVD about halal meat, aimed at public sector caterers, consultant to EBLEX, Nizar Boga, told industry representatives that the welfare of animals is of extreme importance to Islamic traditions.

"Animal welfare is at the top of Muslim theology," he said.

"That is my hobby horse. That is something that is badly missing in the slaughter equation when people forget the rights of animals. Animal rights are at the top of the agenda."

The former Environmental Services director also revealed that he found that many of his fellow Muslims did not fully understand what halal actually entailed, that he was frustrated with the small minority of 'halal' butchers who sold non-halal meat, including one butcher who admitted he bought meat from Smithfield Market, and that there was feeling among some people that stunning could be accepted as part of the ritual.

He added: "There is this view at the moment, more and more shifting towards stunning."

Boga concluded by saying that he was appealing to organisations outside the Muslim community - such as Defra, EBLEX, the Food Standards Agency and the National Farmers' Union - to help organise halal standards.

EBLEX chief executive Richard Lowe said: "Commercially it is our job to help exporters across these markets, so that halal standards of the UK are very much the story."

Tony Goodger, foodservice trade manager, said the aim of the DVD was also to increase understanding that good standards of halal meat production are used in the UK.