By Daniel Hunter
Several supermarkets have admitted to selling halal meat without clear labelling.
Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Waitrose all admitted to selling various halal products. But not all of it is clearly labelled as being halal.
Around 70% of lamb from New Zealand is halal. And while Tesco does have halal/kosher-only counters at some stores, only meats available from those counters is clearly labelled as halal.
Sainsbury’s sell a halal and kosher range of products, all of which are labelled but ‘regular’ products do not. Waitrose admitted that some of its lamb is halal, but there is no labelling on any lamb products to indicate it is halal.
Morrisons does sell halal ‘branded’ products which are clearly labelled, including the method of slaughter. But its New Zealand lamb is not labelled as halal.
Asda also sells branded halal and kosher meals which are clearly labelled. But the supermarket refused to comment on whether or not other meats are halal.
In stark contrast to other supermarkets, all halal and kosher products sold at Lidl are clearly labelled.
Much of the debate surrounding the selling and labelling of halal meat has focused on the method of religious slaughter.
Halal slaughtered animals have their throat cut – around 80% are stunned first to prevent pain, but it’s believed that around 20% aren’t stunned. And the British Veterinary Association have argued that without stunning, some animals aren’t killed instantly.
But that is not the real issue.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg says the issue is about fully informing consumers about what they are buying.
Mr Clegg said he has “no problem” eating a pizza with halal chicken, but said it’s “relatively straightforward” for businesses to clearly label their packaging.
Talking on LBC radio, the Deputy Prime Minister said: “People want to know more about how their food arrived on their plates, so to speak.
“And then there is this issue, which has been highlighted today, by a joint letter from both Jewish and Muslim community leaders, about the particular concern that consumers should know whether the animal was stunned before slaughter — I think it is really about consumer information… rather than some reaction to halal itself.
“What this has revealed is not that people are saying well, I won’t eat that meat – I certainly have no problem with eating a pizza with halal meat on it, it’s a question of telling consumers.
“I think there should be more information…it is just a question. There is lot of information that we now have on goods we buy that we didn’t some years ago and this is something that should be relatively straight forward, obviously this is all totally traceable, you can have a symbol [indicating the meat is halal]”.
Pizza Express, which used halal chicken on its pizzas despite not clearly labelling it on its menus. The Pizza restaurant chain said it will review its menu policy after campaigners called for clearer labelling.
The only way to find out if the chicken was halal was to ask a member of staff, or to check the company’s FAQs on its website. But Nick Clegg doesn’t believe that’s a suitable source of information.
He said: “Pizza express for instance had the information on their website but not on their menus, I am a great fan of Pizza Express but I don’t dwell on the website before I tuck into a pizza.”
The government has responded by saying it will look into the possibility of making all retailers and restaurants clearly label any products which contain halal meat and the way in which the animals were slaughtered.
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