UK: ANSA calls Cargill Meats’ halal trial into question

The Association of Non-Stun Abattoirs (ANSA) has taken issue over Cargill Meats Europe paying for ‘covert’ trials into halal recovery.

Cargill Meats Europe, a major supplier of halal meat in the UK and overseas, conducted a halal recovery trial in Spain on 8 January 2014, ANSA has claimed.

The trial was led by the Halal Food Authority (HFA) and carried out by two academics from the University of Bristol, it said, the details of which it acquired after a request to the university for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mohammed Saleem, a spokesperson for ANSA, said that covertly carrying out this trial demonstrated “a lack of respect for the Muslim consumer”.

He said the organisation believed the practice was “unethical” due to the way it was done behind closed doors, involving “two halal certification companies, already subject to concern by the Muslim community over their certification not meeting the halal criteria, and one poultry company, Cargill, which churns out high volumes of poultry through the machine slaughter method”.

He said ANSA believed the nature of the trial to be under-handed “and, where Cargill is concerned, misleading”, for a company which claims to be grounded in a culture of trust and respect.

In response to its claims, a spokesperson for Cargill told Meat Trades Journal: “Cargill‘s European chicken business supplies certified halal chicken from its Newent facility. An electrical stunning process is used, which stuns the birds to minimise stress but does not kill them.

“The birds are then manually killed with a single knife cut by a trained Muslim slaughterman who speak prayers constantly during the process. Our Newent slaughter process is independently endorsed and approved by the Institute of Islamic Jurisprudence which inspects our halal process and certifies our products.”

She said that Cargill took its responsibilities for animal welfare very seriously and its facility operates under the supervision of official veterinary personnel.

“Cargill has an established history of supporting scientific research into animal welfare. Bristol University undertook an independent study to determine the effect of electrical current and frequency combinations permitted by European regulations during poultry slaughter for the halal market, which Cargill supported, as the findings would be pertinent to our business. This research has now been published and is freely available to all interested parties.”

The documents can be viewed here:

Earlier this month the Halal Authority Board (HAB) signed a motion stating that machine-killed poultry is haram (forbidden) and unacceptable to UK Muslims.

At a conference on 22 February, attended by representatives from halal certification bodies, businesses, Muslim organisations and mosques, it was explained that, under Islamic law, mechanical slaughter is haram, as per a consensus already signed by the HAB in June 2012.

Saleem said the change in the law will impact the use of recoverable stunning methods as, once pre-stunned, the bird or animal will not be allowed to recover on the grounds of animal welfare.

“We fully accept and want to ensure that animal welfare remains top priority, as require for halal slaughter. “We have an issue with pre-stunning methods as it creates two hurdles that a bird or animal has to go through before the actual slaughter,” he continued. “The changes in law means there will be no assurance over whether the bird/animal was alive at the time of slaughter a prerequisite for halal slaughter.”

He said the law as it stands allows for slaughter without the need to pre-stun, which he said gave the greatest level of assurance to comply with halal requirements. “Why can companies not use and develop on this method, which coincidentally no animal welfare person/group can conclusively claim to be inhumane.”

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