Fast food chain KFC is trialling halal meat in certain restaurants, but
some Muslims say it hasn’t been killed in the correct Islamic way.
Catrin Nye asks when is halal meat not halal meat?
It may claim its food is “finger lickin’ good”, but until recently strict Muslims might have seen a problem with it.
Now fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is trialling halal
meat – meaning it has been killed in accordance with Islamic dietary
laws – in eight of its UK restaurants. But the trial has sparked a
debate over what is and what isn’t halal, with some Muslims boycotting
the restaurants because they say the meat has not been killed
The issue is whether meat can be halal if it has been slaughtered using mechanical methods.
Traditionally, halal meat is killed by hand and must be blessed by the
person doing the job. But some Muslims say a mechanised form is also
Halal is the description of food and drink Muslims are
allowed to consume under Islamic dietary laws defined in the Qur’an and
in the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. Classifying of halal food can
only be carried out by a Muslim expert in the laws.
The meat is traditionally prepared by slaughtering the
animal with a quick cut to the throat with a sharp knife to allow all
blood to drain from the animal, the idea being that the meat is
cleaner. The slaughterman is required to say the traditional
proclamation of faith in one god as the animal is killed.
When it has been slaughtered using mechanical methods
Halal Food Authority says this is acceptable
Halal Monitoring Committee says it should be done by hand
At present two separate organisations regulate the halal food industry
in the UK. The Halal Food Authority (HFA) says using machines is ok, as
long as the meat is still blessed. It argues that advances in
technology mean methods have to change and though a machine does the
killing, the meat is still blessed by a Muslim slaughter-man.
But the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) says animals
should be slaughtered by hand and using a machine is not halal and not
permissible. It argues mechanisation contradicts a fundamental
principle of halal – that the person who slaughters the animal is the
same person who recites the words over it.
‘Rotten and wrong’
“Halal is a very sacred part of a Muslim’s diet and many Muslims do not
even know what they are eating when it’s certified as halal in this
way,” says Yunus Dudhwala, chairman of the HMC.
“I think the majority would be very upset to find out that it’s been mechanically killed.”
KFC says it is following the guidance offered by what it considers a reputable advisor.
“We are working with the Halal Food Authority, one of the most widely
recognised bodies in the UK and overseas, who have audited and approved
our halal suppliers, distribution and our trial store environments,”
says a spokesperson for the company.
The debate has prompted calls for a single body to regulate the halal
food industry which has a clear set of guidelines on animal slaughter.
“The onus is not on individuals to identify each and
every item that they eat, if the seller says it’s halal that’s enough,”
says Ajmal Masroor, an Imam and spokesman for the Islamic Society of