David Cameron staying out of halal meat labelling row

Prime Minister has no plans for Government intervention over religious slaughter

David Cameron is refusing to intervene in the row over halal and kosher slaughter and the labelling of meat.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said he believes the matter is for retailers to decide with their customers.

The news that supermarkets and restaurants, including Pizza Express, serve halal meat without notifying customers on the packaging or menus has sparked fierce debate.

Several commentators have demanded that consumers are informed about what meat they are eating and some want ritual slaughter abolished over animal welfare concerns.

The response has been ridiculed as an overreaction by others, with some Twitter users using the hashtag #halalhysteria and many arguing that concerns stem from religious prejudice.

Representatives of Jewish and Muslim groups have written a joint letter calling for consumers to be given detailed information about slaughter methods when buying meat.

File image showing chickens at a halal abattoir in France: Campaigners have called for clearer labelling of meat produced through religious slaughter in the UK File image showing chickens at a halal abattoir in France. A significant proportion of meat produced by exporting countries such as New Zealand is slaughtered to halal standards, in order to ensure it can be sold to both Muslim and non-Muslim nations.

Asked whether Mr Cameron thought the Government should act to ensure halal and kosher meat is clearly labelled, his spokesman said: "The Prime Minister's view is that it is an issue of consumer choice and consumer information.

"So it is a matter for retailers and restaurants to work with customers and consumer groups and representatives of faith organisations.

"He is a strong supporter of religious freedoms, including religious slaughter practices."

Asked whether Mr Cameron thought consumers should ask about the slaughter methods used for the meat they buy, the spokesman replied: “Many consumers will rightly be very demanding of their retailers, the places they shop and the places they go out to eat. I am not telling shoppers or people who go to restaurants what they should do.”

He added: “The Prime Minister's view is that the approach we currently have is absolutely the right one.”

In a letter to the Daily Telegraph, the chairman of Schechita UK, Henry Grunwald, and the deputy secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Shuja Shafi, called for all meat to be labelled to indicate slaughter methods.

“Consumers should be informed whether an animal has been mechanically stunned prior to slaughter and whether it has endured repeat stuns if the first attempt was ineffective,” wrote Mr Grunwald and Dr Shafi. “They should also be told the method of slaughter.”

Both halal and kosher, or shechita, slaughter methods involve the animal’s throat being slit and the blood being drained.

The RSPCA is among several animal rights groups campaigning to ensure that all animals are stunned before slaughter to minimise suffering, whatever the method.

Figures from the Food Standards Agency show that over 80 per cent of animals slaughtered for halal meat were stunned before they died in 2011.

Additional reporting by PA

Read more:
What is halal meat and why is it controversial?
Pizza Express to review halal policy
Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Technical Support Engineer

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Manager - Visitor Fundraising

£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...

Recruitment Genius: Developer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future