France: Meat bosses deny Halal claims

MEAT industry chiefs have denied claims that “all the meat distributed in the Ile-de-France is halal”.

Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen made the statement in a speech in Lille, saying that this was being done unknown by the consumer, adding that “all the abattoirs in Ile-de-France sell halal”.

However professionals in the sector said Ms Le Pen had mixed up “distribution” and “slaughtering”, as in fact most meat in Paris butchers or supermarkets comes from regional suppliers or from the Rungis market, which is supplied by producers around France.

It emerged however it is true that the main abattoirs in Ile-de-France are exclusively halal. An organisation concerned with the welfare of animals destined for slaughter, OABA, said three abattoirs in the region carry out halal slaughter – without stunning and according to Muslim ritual. A fourth deals only with pork (not eaten by Muslims) and there are others exclusively for poultry, the body said.

A spokesman for meat industry unions, Dominique Langlois, said: “Ritual slaughter in France represents less than 10% of the total and the Ile-de-France abattoirs represent less than 1% of French slaughter.”

Interior Minister Claude Guéant said: “The veterinary services make sure that the abattoirs supply their meat to people who want to eat halal”, adding there were “frequent checks to make sure there is no deception as to the merchandise.”

OABA said that not all halal meat ended up in halal shops and consumers sometimes eat it without being aware of it.

Le Pen, who also hit out at halal meat in Quick restaurants in 2010, says she plans to sue certain supermarkets in the Ile-de-France for “deception with regard to their merchandise”.

The Connexion France’s English Language newspaper