UK: The Halal Council opposes religious discrimination in the name of animal welfare

The Council for European Halal Consumers (the Halal Council) has noted that animal welfare has become increasingly regulated in recent years, including the bans on individual sow stalls 2013, conventional cages for laying hens 2012, and animal testing for cosmetics 2009, and the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (England) Regulations 2015, which necessitate the Food Business Operators (“FBOs”) in the Halal food sector to be ahead of compliance and regulatory challenges. Most recently with the issuance of Clarification on the requirements for non-stun slaughter of small ruminant animals by religious rites it has become abundantly clear that institutional powerhouses are adamant to frustrate the Halal consumer market with indirect discrimination in the name of Animal welfare

This objective, though sounds simple, is an enormous challenge which continuously troubles the non-stun FBOs who do not have in-house legal and/or technical advice to keep the compliance under control or appreciate for the legal enforcement to be an imminent and present risk to the business. Having spent thousands of pounds in the last few years the livelihood of employees and businesses is put at risk by bureaucrats with no sense of accountability or understanding that the cost of living for an ordinary Muslim is directly affected by such policy decisions in addition to increasing the cost of exclusion and marginalisation.

The achievements and challenges, according to the Halal Council, centre on four major themes: farming, transport, legal enforcement, food quality, education and training. A recent review undertaken by the Council of European Halal Consumers conclude:

1. Government should provide a forum for a dialogue between different stakeholders, including non-stun FBOs catering for the Halal industry;

  1. Ensuring animal welfare was everyone’s responsibility at the non-stun FBOs;
  2. Training and in-house legal knowledge is key for the non-stun FBOs of tomorrow;
  3. Import/Export – Ensuring that imports into EU comply with requirements and promoting animal welfare in exports to non-EU countries. It has been noted that EU provides a “gold standard” on welfare that should be promoted to other countries.

Experts in the British non-Stun industry show some juxtaposition of views in that the Government and DEFRA are reminded that “stockmanship” is as equally vital to welfare as systems and that any change to systems especially regulatory has a financial impact. It is important that the DEFRA is not “disconnected” from this. The rest of the food chain and market must help farmers in bearing some of the costs of any welfare changes. However, equally it is stressed that good equipment equated to good welfare and certain innovations might not have a cost implication, if carefully managed, and would improve both welfare and the better understanding of the supply chain and quality assurance. Vital to this development is the role of in-house legal advice which successful FBOs have started to realise. The Council for European Halal Consumers is the only independent organisation in the United  Kingdom which offers dedicated legal consultancy support to the non-Stun industry.

Of particular interest for non-stun FBOs is the importance being set on applying EU standards to imports and in promoting animal welfare in exports and the markets of non-EU countries.

MB Legal, the legal support arm of the Council for European Halal Consumers, understands that new regulatory requirements have been introduced following a High Court decision which may result in a revised Food Law-Code of Practice by the Food Standards Agency which the FBOs especially in the non-stun halal food sector must take part to appreciate the impact of it for their own survival and growth.

Council for European Halal Consumers has been at the forefront to help Non-stun FBOs in the Halal Food sector to ensure compliance and to help as to how to overcome the new regulatory burdens. The Council opposes the current aggressive stance of DEFRA and believes it to be an indirect interference with the religious rights of Halal consumers especially where such measures have been introduced without proper consultation and without undertaking any factual assessment as to how it may well contribute to the food fraud in addition to the increased cost of prophetic halal Meat products.

For the avoidance of doubt majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom prefer non-stun Halal Meat products. There is no two opinions to it and the contrary is only promoted and stated to provide a cover to allow the system to get away with its agenda. The same lame excuse has been used most recently by the Lancashire County Council by banning the non-stun Halal to schools without any adherence to its implications to Equalities Act 2010 and many other similar European and domestic legislation just to mislead the communities and yet again the animal welfare to produce discriminatory policies open to judicial challenges.

The Halal Council is the operating style of the Council for European Halal Consumers;

The Halal Council is an independent body promoting and protecting rights of Halal Consumers;

MB Legal provides legal consultancy support to the Halal Council.