Halal tribunal to be launched

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal is to preside over a trial on machine slaughter and its place in halal.

The tribunal is to arbitrate on Food Standard Agency (FSA) halal guidance published in 2010 which states that at the time of slaughter, the slaughter man must pronounce Bismillah Allahu Akbar (In the name of God, God is the Greatest) on each animal or bird, and if it is acceptable as a policy to slaughter by machine.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal was established to provide a viable alternative for the Muslim community seeking to resolve disputes in accordance with Islamic Law. It is used as a form of alternative dispute resolution for the Muslim community which operates under the Arbitration Act 1996 and its rulings can be enforced in England and Wales by both the County Courts and the High Court.

In 2014, the Halal Authority Board (HAB) signed a motion stating that machine-killed poultry is haram (forbidden) and unacceptable to UK Muslims. This declaration meant that no certification body will certify machine slaughtered poultry as halal.

According to Naved Syed, halal adviser to the Yorkshire Asian Business Association and one of the parties calling for the tribunal, there is a large number of machine slaughtered chickens currently being promoted as halal: Over 1.75 million chickens being slaughtered by machine slaughter for the halal
market every week by UK producers and certified by unregulated halal certifiers have created a problem regarding halal slaughter.

It [FSA guidance] states the mislabelling and misrepresentation of halal foods is of great importance to the Muslim community, and continues to be an issue of concern. For this reason, the advice was drawn up in association with relevant Muslim organisations and Defra. Food enforcement officers are requested to use this advice when planning inspections, food sampling and labelling checks relating to halal foods, and take appropriate action.

He added that all parties will have their say on the situation. Unregulated halal certifers will have the opportunity to defend machine slaughter at the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal. This has to be done
correctly so there is no confusion on the situation and the matter can be put to rest finally.

A date for the trial is due to be announced shortly.

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