UK: Chicken McHalal

By Abul Taher, Daily Mail

Fast-food giant McDonald’s has admitted selling halal chicken without telling its customers. The poultry was used in popular menu items such as Chicken McNuggets and the McChicken Sandwich in its 1,200 British outlets.

The admission comes three weeks after the company categorically denied to this newspaper that it used any halal meat. Now McDonald’s has revealed that the firm that supplies its poultry, Cargill, produces halal chicken at one of its abattoirs.

In a statement to The Mail on Sunday, McDonald’s said: ‘As a result of your enquiries, our investigation has confirmed that some halal chicken has entered our supply chain without our knowledge, and we apologise to our customers for this.

Food chain: Halal poultry has been used in popular menu items such as Chicken McNuggets and the McChicken Sandwich in its 1,200 British outlets

‘While is it not a quality issue, halal chicken is outside of our specification. We have received assurances from Cargill that halal meat production from this abattoir has now stopped.’

McDonald’s says  all the chicken in its restaurants comes from poultry which has been stunned before slaughter. Meanwhile, Asda,   Britain’s second-largest supermarket chain, has admitted that much of its lamb and chicken is slaughtered according to Islamic ritual.

A company source said: ‘It’s fair to say that most lamb is halal and I would say half of the chicken is halal.’ Islamic law requires Muslims to slaughter animals by slitting their throat while reciting an Arabic prayer which translates as: ‘In the name of Allah, who is the greatest.’

The animal is required to be conscious but moderate Muslim groups allow it to be stunned before the throat is slit. Both McDonald’s and Asda made their admissions after our investigation traced the abattoirs where they source their meat.

In the case of McDonald’s, a Muslim meat industry expert, who did not want to be identified, revealed that the fast-food firm sources its chicken from the Sun Valley abattoir in Hereford, which is owned by Cargill.

The abattoir is certified by the Halal Food Authority (HFA) to sell chicken that is suitable for Muslims. A spokesman for Cargill said halal-slaughtering at Sun Valley had now stopped.

Some of Asda’s abattoirs were tracked down by using the slaughterhouses’ registration number. All licensed abattoirs are given a unique code by the Food Standards Agency, which is displayed on the labels of fresh meat products in supermarkets.

When the registration code is entered into a consumer website called Tracing Paper, it reveals the name and address of the abattoir. Using the website, Asda’s Lamb Escalopes, priced at £4.66, with the registration code UK 4071 EC, were traced to the Dunbia abattoir in Preston.

Dunbia said that all its animals were stunned before slaughter. Asda’s Smart Price Chicken Breast Fillets – with the registration UK 4633 EC – were traced to an abattoir in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, belonging to Faccenda, the country’s second-biggest chicken producer.

The HFA said Faccenda had been certified to sell halal poultry. Faccenda said in a statement: ‘Faccenda Group fully complies with all current EU legislation. This includes the use of effective stunning.’

Asda said: ‘It’s our policy that all animals used for Asda brand products, halal or non-halal, are stunned.’ Food author Yvonne Bishop-Weston said: ‘There’s increasing demand from the public to know where and how their food is produced, and that includes the method of slaughter.’