Not identifying halal food could trip up food firms

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Halal food authority, Halal, Kashrut, Consumer protection

Halal meat requires prescribed methods of killing
Halal meat requires prescribed methods of killing
Food and drink firms could face prosecution for failing to label products as halal under forthcoming regulatory changes, according to top legal firm Eversheds.

“It is conceivable that under the revised food labelling requirements ​[the Food Information to Consumers Regulation], the majority of which will come into force during December 2014, and UK consumer protection legislation that it is an offence to fail to notify consumers that they are purchasing halal meat,” ​said Eversheds food labelling expert Gillian Harkess.

The key test determining whether businesses could breach UK regulations would be if failure to highlight halal products could alter shoppers’ purchasing decisions, she said.

On the one hand, it was unlikely that there would be much impetus to prosecute a firm for such an offence, given that bigger issues such as food fraud needed more focus, said Harkess.

Sensitive issue

However, on the other hand, failure to label ingredients in products was a sensitive issue for many consumers, and consumer groups, after last year’s horsemeat scandal, she warned.

“In the cash-strapped world of food regulators, where the priority for time and resource is to investigate and prosecute food businesses which intentionally or negligently cause harm to consumers, it is likely that the appetite to prosecute a food business for failing to declare that their meat is slaughtered in line with halal requirements is low.

“Food businesses should remain aware however, that public interest on the information provided in food labels remains high as a result of the horsemeat scandal of 2013 and careful consideration should be given to them as result.”

The Halal Food Authority, which certifies halal food and raises awareness of halal issues in the food industry is pushing for halal labelling to be regulated under law, instead of being retailers’ responsibility.

“If the responsibility is directly with the retailer themselves to label products halal, an undeniable increase in the self-certification of halal products will be observed,”​ it said in a statement.

Self-certification

“The HFA firmly oppose halal self-certification as the entire production process is not vigorously regulated as it would be if slaughterhouses and product manufacturers are halal accredited by an independent, reputable certification body.”

It proposes labelling meat as stunned or non-stunned as a stopgap measure until firmer legal guidelines on halal labelling are established.

Islamic law requires meat for human consumption to be halal. That means animals should be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter, not stunned, all blood should be drained from the carcass and a dedication is recited during the process. Animals are killed through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe.

Non-meat products could be non-halal if they contain traces of alcohol or ingredients derived from non-halal animals.

Jewish rules for kosher food require similar methods of slaughter, but forbids the use of stunning and includes no dedication or blessing during the process.

Halal New Zealand Lamb

Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer have all admitted to selling halal New Zealand Lamb, without disclosing that it is halal on labelling.

The Sun newspaper intensified public interest in the issue earlier this week when it ran a front page story​ declaring all chicken sold at Pizza Express was halal and customers were not being told.

Religious and non-religious pressure groups are arguing for clearer labelling of halal foods so consumers can make more informed choices.

Food Manufacture Group held a webinar on the Food Information Regulation (FIR) in February. To listen in to a recording, click here​.

Related news

Show more

Related suppliers

6 comments

Show more

Halal slaughter without stun is a tradition not a religious act

Posted by Jules,

The Quran does not promote harm to an animal before eating, it says that a simple prayer before eating makes the foods Halal. The non or part stun is a tradition which is a "Hadith" so the religious claim is a con to a gullible and PC frightened government

Report abuse

Electro-immobilization

Posted by Sarah Swift,

People do not realise that this is the "STUN" they are talking about when they claim the animal is stunned prior to slaughter.

http://www.grandin.com/humane/electro.html

Report abuse

Hello England

Posted by Tekla Svensson,

CHeck if you have a similar religion law in England as we have in Sweden " the law of religionfreedom" it called.

it gives you the right to practice your faith as an individual or in a group, but only as long as it does not negatively affect anyone else with other belief alternatively no belief at all. The same law gives you the right to refrain from negative religious influence.

All the while, municipalities, hospitals, schools, hotels and restaurants, grocery stores and others serving alternatively sells halal slaughtered products to everyone, regardless to which faith you have,they is breaking that law.

Even worse is that everyone, regardless of belief,pay through their taxes and through their wallet to the Sharia-controlled halal certification companies whose fees go straight into a Sharia committee. We do not belong to the religious group of Muslims but still we are forced to pay for Islam and Sharia laws sprawl. Why should that be OK ?

Report abuse