UK: Muslim scholars reject machine slaughtered meat as halal

By Naumaan Farooq, Asian Express

After scholars unanimously rejected machine slaughtered meat as being halal, calls have been made for a top fast food outlet to stop mislabelling its chicken ‘halal.’

Around 40 of the country’s leading Islamic Scholars have called on fast food giant KFC to stop selling their meat as halal which they say is slaughtered using machines.

At a conference at the Hijaz Centre, Nuneaton some of the countries most respected Imams passed a vote saying machine slaughtered chickens were not halal because the prescribed holy words needed to be said on each individual bird.

July last year, KFC had 92 ‘halal’ outlets in the UK and many Muslims now feel their food is not killed in accordance with the proper Islamic method. The issue is whether meat can be halal if it has been slaughtered using mechanical methods which scholars said was not allowed.

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 now acceptable.

Speaking at the conference one of the scholars said: “Machine slaughter of animals is totally not allowed in Islam. The prescribed holy words should be said on every animal and not just one.

“Here we have a scenario when one person just flicks a switch and hundreds of chickens die, that’s not Islamic.”

Halal is the description of food and drink Muslims are allowed to consume under Islamic dietary laws defined in the Quran and in the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

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 out, 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.

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 slaughterman.

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.

KFC says it is following the guidance offered by what it considers a reputable adviser.

At a meeting with the fast food outlet’s representatives two years ago it was confirmed to the Lancashire Council for Mosques that KFC’s chickens were stunned and mechanically slaughtered

The sub group expressed concerns about the mechanical slaughtering of animals and told KFC that the Muslim Council of Britain supported their position.

The meeting concluded that KFC’s Halal Supply Chain did not fulfil the LCM Halal criteria and therefore cannot be termed as halal.

Naved Syed, Member of Eblex Halal Steering Group and responsible for organising the conference in Nuneaton said: “We need to resolve this matter as quickly as possible.

“The problem with machine slaughter is you cannot perform Tasmiah (Holy prayer) on each animal when you machine killing 20,000 chickens an hour.

“All of these issues need to be addressed especially on the subject of machine slaughter by the religious authorities.

“With over 40 Muftis and Imams having made the decision it will enable us to lay the foundation for halal here in the UK.

“With Ramadan just around the corner this problem needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.”

Speaking in a recent interview Yunus Dudhwala, chairman of HMC, said: “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.”

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Naumaan Farooq
Senior Reporter, Asian Express Newspapers <>