Lancashire County Council has passed a resolution banning un-stunned Halal meat for school meals. The resolution has been agreed by the council, initiated by Conservative council leader Geoff Driver, who said it is ‘abhorrent’ and ‘cruel’ to slaughter animals without stunning first.
The move has been branded “unnecessary and divisive” by Muslim leaders.
As part of the resolution, animals will have to be stunned before they are slaughtered in order for the meat to be served in 27 schools in the county which cater for 12,000 children.
For the time being the ban will not affect chicken meat but the council said further investigation will be carried out into the stunning of poultry before slaughter.
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said the vote came as the contract to provide non-stunned halal meat was due for renewal. He added,
“The council will now consult with the Lancashire Council of Mosques and others on how this can be implemented whilst still providing meals that comply with the Muslim community’s beliefs as well as investigating the stunning of poultry before slaughter.”
However, Abdul Hamid Qureshi, CEO of the Lancashire Council of Mosques said the vote was “disappointing” and warned the ban was “unnecessary and will be divisive”.
Mr Qureshi said neither the Muslim nor Jewish community had been properly consulted before the resolution was proposed at council. He said,
“This is taking away rights from the Muslim and Jewish communities which are allowed by law. This decision has been imposed on us and it will create controversies and disputes in schools when there was no problem. We are open for consultation but what would have prevented the council from doing it earlier? We should not only be looking at the animals end of life but also at the way they are treated when alive.
If the consultation phase on how the ban will be implemented goes wrong then some Muslim children will not be able to eat school meals anymore because some Muslims believe that only un-stunned meat is the right meat. People should be able to live their lives according to their believes and that liberty is allowed by law.”
Under UK law, farm animals are to be stunned before slaughter but there are religious exemption for Jews and Muslims.
Halal accreditation agencies are responsible to ensure companies producing halal meat meet the criteria for the appellation but there are no single UK standards for halal meat.
The Halal Food Authority has decreed that stunning cannot be used to kill an animal but it can be used if an animal survives and is then killed by halal methods.