EBLEX halal steering group member Naved Syed said: “If the official FSA guidelines on halal were followed, machine slaughter would not be deemed to be halal.”
FSA’s guidelines − set out in its Guidance Note on Halal Food Issues, by Sarah Appleby, head of enforcement and local authority delivery division in September 2010 − specifically ruled out the machine slaughter of stock, he claimed.
Annex 1 of the guidance note stated: “The slaughter man must use a sharp knife (which must not be sharpened in front of the animal).”
The annex goes on to state: “At the time of slaughter he [the slaughter man] must pronounce Bismillah Allahu Akbar (in the name of God, God is the Greatest) on each animal or bird.”
Since machine slaughter could meet neither of the two conditions, meat from stock slaughtered using machines could not be considered halal, said Syed.
Syed, who worked with the FSA in the preparation of its halal guidelines, stressed he was speaking in a personal capacity not on behalf of EBLEX.
An FSA spokeswoman acknowledged that mechanical slaughter had gained prominence in relation to halal food. She also acknowledged different views in the Muslim community about whether or not this was acceptable.
But she pointed out there is no legal definition of halal and it was not for the FSA to determine whether this method of slaughter was deemed halal.
Consumers who were concerned about slaughter methods should speak to their retailer or contact the food supplier or manufacturer for more information, according to the FSA.
It also encouraged food business and retailers to make this information available to consumers and advised the Muslim community to seek advice from their local Mosque.
But Syed told FoodManufacture.co.uk the FSA guidelines were absolutely clear in prohibiting machine slaughter.
“Why has the Muslim community wasted eight years and £5M in working with the FSA to prepare halal guidelines that the agency is not prepared to enforce?
“Without enforcement, all the FSA guidelines are an expensive waste of time,” he added.
Meanwhile, a KFC spokesman said: “We have worked closely with the Halal Food Authority for our halal products and have complete confidence in its credentials. The HFA is part of the World Halal Council, and it is the UK’s largest and longest-established halal certification body, accrediting over 200 other food-related businesses to ensure that the edicts and requirements for halal accreditation are strictly followed and adhered to.
"The HFA has clarified its stance on mechanical slaughter and 100% of KFC products, including halal meat, is supplied from animals that are stunned before slaughter," he added.
KFC trialing the sale of halal meat at nearly 100 outlets nationwide.
To read more about KFC and halal meat, click here .