Halal body criticises FSA on animal welfare report

The Halal Food Authority (HFA) has criticised the latest Animal Welfare Survey by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as “wholly inaccurate and misleading”.

The HFA was in “complete disagreement” with the determination of halal slaughter in the report, as the methods reported were “inappropriate and not recognised as valid by any known independent halal certification organisation in the UK”, it said in a statement today (30 January).

The FSA survey of 301 slaughterhouses during 16-22 September 2013 stated that, of the 1,437 cattle apparently slaughtered for the halal market, 75% were stunned before slaughter. Of the 121,472 sheep and goats slaughtered by the halal method, 63% were stunned, while for poultry, of the 3.6m birds slaughtered by a halal method, 84% were stunned before slaughter.

However, the HFA said that in the methods of slaughter for cattle, sheep and goats outlined in the report, captive bolt and electronarcosis stunning, were not recognised as halal-compliant.

It said: “We would also like the FSA to elaborate on what it defines as halal slaughter. What criteria do the slaughtering plants use to select their slaughtermen and are they independently monitored by a third party? The fact that a food business operator self-certifies itself should not necessarily make it halal, since most of these plants are in complete breach of the halal standards.”

The HFA also called for greater transparency in the obtaining and reporting of information about halal slaughter.

It said: “There is a huge gap in consumer awareness and education level in terms of animal welfare and stunning methods, and we would like to see the launch of appropriate and comprehensive awareness campaigns in the UK to orientate consumers, enabling them to exercise their choice in much beneficial manner.

“While the HFA wholly commends the FSA for its work and commitment to the UK food industry, we hope that our comments have highlighted the need for accuracy when commenting on halal slaughter and procedures.”

Responding to the HFA’s claims that the slaughter methods referred to were not recognised as halal methods, a spokesperson told Meat Trades Journal: “The FSA’s role is to ensure businesses are complying with specific requirements in animal welfare legislation. It is not for the FSA to confirm that non-stun slaughter meat is either halal or kosher – these are matters for the relevant religious bodies.”

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