Concern over consumers being informed on the meat they are eating was front page news again this week.
It comes following the shock of eating horse meat last year but now it has come to light that millions of us could have eaten Halal meat without suspecting a thing.
But is this such a big issue and what is the difference between Halal and ‘normal’ meat ?
Halal food is that which is prepared in adherence to Islamic law, with the term ‘halal’ simply meaning ‘permissible’ in Arabic.
According to the Halal Food Authority (HFA) stunning cannot be used to kill an animal whereby it is ‘stunned’ with a bolt gun before being slaughtered.
Instead, during the process for Halal meat a specially trained slaughter man will slit the throat of the animal and recite a religious dedication.
This isn’t wildly different from traditional butchers’ methods and arguably no crueler.
And if you have been to Manchester’s Curry Mile, you will probably have eaten Halal meat at some point.
Halal credentials are usually displayed proudly in shops and as a favourite culinary destination for many, restaurants serving it certainly haven’t suffered in sales.
But are the stories of millions of people eating the meat without their knowledge a concern to the public?
Here at MM, we took to the streets of Manchester to ask:
Would you mind if you had eaten halal meat without knowing?
A large number of people said they were indifferent about if they had eaten the meat with nearly three-quarters of people saying they weren’t bothered.
However, many did voice a concern that it should be clearly labelled so they had the choice whether to eat it or not.
Pietro Allen, 53, from Derbyshire but working in Manchester as an advocate, said: “I wouldn’t mind but I would prefer to know.
“People should have the choice, some people have religious reasons and they should decide themselves.
“I work in an office that is half Muslim so I suppose I have eaten Halal before when we’ve ordered in without realising.”
Lauren Fletcher, 18, a student from Stalybridge, told MM: “It tastes the same, you can’t tell the difference.”
Maureen Graham, 45, a housewife from Chorlton, believed that it wasn’t an issue.
“I don’t think about it,” she said.
“We have Muslim friends and it’s no trouble to prepare food for them.”
Pescatarian chef, Oliver Lee, 24 from Oldham thought all animal’s slaughtered for food involved some kind of cruelty.
“I understand where people are coming from, Halal is a religious consideration,” he admitted.
Irene Vernon, 68, a shop worker from Baugley, said: “I work with Muslim people, and Jewish people and nobody cares what happens in their houses, it’s only a problem if you know.”
Billy Flanaghan, 35, a chef from Burnage, admitted the restaurant he works in serves both Halal and non-Halal meat.
“I never really eat takeaways or food like that anyway. If I did it wouldn’t bother me,” he said.
Retired David Reeve, 68, from Swinton agreed and said: “I don’t like the method of killing the animal. I would like to know if I was going to eat it. I have no problem with it but it’s not for me.”
However, Susan Flattery, 57 a medical receptionist from Sale, told us: “I don’t think it’s right. We should be told.”
London’s HFA states that prior to being killed, animals have to be fed as normal and given water and that one animal must not see another being killed, acknowledge concern about the animals’ welfare.
And perhaps part of the so-called outcry against Halal is the visceral and bloody image of death it conjures up.
The idea of stunning is appealing, seeming to offer a painless sleep-like death and adds in one more step between cute spring lambs and your kebab.
Is this accurate though?
According to a study by German veterinary weekly from 1978, that measured pain reception in animals being slaughtered, this might not be true.
The study concluded that slaughter in the form of a ritual cut, for calves and sheep, if carried out properly, is painless and all animals were unresponsive within 10 seconds.
This was based on EEG readings (electronic activity in the scalp) and sensory physiology.
For the stunning method, which is still followed by the animals having their throat cut, severe reactions were recorded.
The study concluded that the reliable effectiveness of stunning could not be proved.
Image courtesy of Memi Beltrame, with thanks