Industry experts dismiss ‘sensationalist’ supermarket halal media stories

Experts in the meat industry have criticised national media stories about unlabelled halal meat in supermarkets, saying they are sensationalist and contain incorrect information.

A number of national media articles have accused supermarkets of not telling their customers when they are selling them halal meat – specifically New Zealand lamb, with the Daily Mail calling it “a stealthy takeover of Britain’s supermarket shelves”.

However, industry experts have said that the ‘halal’ slaughter process of New Zealand lamb is no different to normal slaughter, and some of the stories are just designed to “stir people up”.  

Craig Finch, Beef + Lamb New Zealand regional manager, told MTJ: “All our halal meat is processed to the same standards as non-halal meat. All of our animals must be stunned prior to slaughter – the only difference is we have Muslim slaughtermen who say a quick prayer. The processes are absolutely identical. There is also no difference in animal welfare, and there is no room for negotiation there.”

Finch added that if the EU were to bring in an EU regulatory requirement to change labelling then Beef + Lamb New Zealand would conform to this, but this requirement does not currently exist.   

John Mabb, UK market manager at New Zealand lamb for 28 years said: “My immediate reaction is that it must be a slow day in the news room. This seems to crop up every six months, and it seems to be an anti-Muslim thing. Halal and non-halal meat is slaughtered in exactly the same way, apart from one line of prayer from a Muslim. How can you label that? It’s plain daft.

“It’s also not helpful when they print things that are actually incorrect. For example, the Mail piece says that, under Islamic law, animals must be slaughtered when they are still conscious – it’s a lie, it’s just not true and it will stir people up.”

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “All own-brand meat from major UK supermarkets comes from animals that have been stunned before they are killed and all our members have confirmed all their own-brand fresh meat is from animals that have been pre-stunned before slaughter. We do not see the requirement to separately label meat.”

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