UK: LCM Halal row over new Blackburn Nando’s restaurant

by Bill Jacobs, Local government reporter, Lancashire Telegraph

MUSLIM bosses have sparked a row by warning Nando’s it must follow strict guidelines if it decides to sell ‘halal’ chicken at its proposed Blackburn restaurant.

The Lancashire Council of Mosques, which represents East Lancashire‘s Muslims, said the chain does not meet its religious certification of halal food and now the chairman of the LCM’s Halal Committee Salim Mulla and its boss Abdul Hamid Qureshi have warned the international restaurant company it will tell local followers of Islam to boycott the new outlet, due to open this winter in the Vue cinema complex, if it does not change its procedures.

But Nandos and one East Lancashire Mosque treasurer Faisal Khan said they were both happy with the ‘halal’ accreditation used by the chain and the company was religiously acceptable.

 The announcement by Nando’s that it had chosen the town as its first outlet in East Lancashire was welcomed last month

The announcement by Nando’s that it had chosen the town as its first outlet in East Lancashire was welcomed last month

The announcement by Nando’s that it had chosen the town as its first outlet in East Lancashire was welcomed last month as a major boost to Blackburn’s regeneration plans.

The company said no decision on whether the outlet, on the Peel Retail and Leisure Park behind the Railway Station, should be halal would be taken until later this year.

The chain is popular with young people for its spicy Portuguese/Mozambican-based menu and elsewhere in the UK has a strong Muslim following.

Cllr Mulla, a former Blackburn with Darwen Mayor, phoned Nando’s head of customer engagement, David Manly to warn him the London-based Halal Food Authority accreditation used by the company’s suppliers was unacceptable to the LCM.

The HFA allows the stunning of chickens before slaughter, which Cllr Mulla and his organisation believe fails to meet the strict criteria of Islamic law.

The LCM insist on accreditation and inspection by the Leicester-based Halal Monitoring Committee which forbids it.

The HFA responded that its certified procedures met all Islamic religious requirements while Nando’s said it had no plans to change its accreditation body.

Already the LCM has taken on Lancashire County Council on ‘halal’ school meals and KFC over the status of its Haslingden Road restaurant in Blackburn.

The LCC came to an agreement with the LCM in November to allow Muslim children at its schools to eat its meals with HMC approved meat while KFC dropped the halal status of the Haslingden Road restaurant for ‘purely commercial’ reasons. The KFC express on Colne Road in Burnley is currently Halal.

Cllr Mulla said: “I have been in touch by phone with Mr Manly and told him unless their chicken meets our guidelines, we will not consider it to be Halal.

“In that case we shall urge all East Lancashire Muslims to boycott it which will make it very difficult for the new Blackburn restaurant to trade successfully.

“No young Muslims will go there.

“The HFA permits stunning before slaughter which we believe is un-Islamic. Only restaurants and suppliers certified by the Halal Monitoring Committee are currently acceptable to the LCM.

“I hope they will take account of our views and follow our guidelines for certification if they decide to open the restaurant as halal.”

Burnley resident and LCM chair Mr Qureshi said: “I fully support Salim.”

But 29-year-old Bastwell shopkeeper and treasurer of Randal Street Mosque Mr Khan said few young Muslims would follow Mr Mulla’’s advice.

He said: “If Nando’s and the HFA say it is Halal, that’s fine by me and I would go in and have a burger or some chicken.

“If Nando’s Blackburn restaurant is accredited by the HFA, I think most young Muslims will eat there. I think the LCM and HMC are over the top on their interpretation of what is and is not Halal.”

A Nando’s spokesman said: “We can confirm that we are planning to open in Blackburn. No final decision has been made about whether this restaurant will serve halal chicken. The restaurant is not due to open until winter.

“Our halal chicken supplier, Freemans of Newent, holds two separate halal authorisations from the Halal Food Authority and the Institute of Islamic jurisprudence.”

An HFA spokesman said: “The Halal Food Authority certify ‘recoverable’ stunning.

“This means that following a stun at a low amperage the bird is fully alive at the time of slaughter; therefore fully complying with guidelines for halal laid out in the Koran and in hadith.

“HFA certified birds are never unconscious before slaughter. All of our birds are slaughtered by a trained Slaughterman and all HFA certified slaughterhouses are 100 per cent halal compliant.”

Lancashire County Council schools boss Matthew Tomlinson said: “We currently procure halal meat from a specialist Halal Monitoring Committee approved supplier. We have had this arrangement in place since November 2014.”