By Ben Pike Farmers Guardian
The future of halal slaughter, maximising UK lamb and the pressure on shoppers’ spending on food, particularly in supermarkets, were all on the agenda at the Eblex conference at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Ben Pike reports.
A Halal assurance scheme for the sheep sector, which would include on-pack labelling and abattoir inspections, could be introduced within a year.
A three-month consultation is underway to find the best way to administer the scheme, which could help British farmers increase their red meat sales to the UK’s 2.7 million Muslims, as well as opening the door to a lucrative export market.
About 95 per cent of the country’s Muslims buy halal meat, but much controversy hangs over whether the animal should be stunned before slaughter.
The traditional halal process sees animals having their throats cut without stunning, but half of the respondents to a recent Eblex survey on the issue said head-stunning was acceptable.
The levy board’s sector director Nick Allen said: “In the consultation we are offering two labels – stunned and non-stunned – so it is clear for the consumer what they are buying.”
The assurance scheme would be run in a similar way to the Quality Standard Mark and would be paid for by Eblex. Inspectors would ensure standards are adhered to and this would form the basis of marketing activity to promote sales of halal.
“We would produce the materials and put the resources behind promoting the mark,” said Mr Allen.
Rizvan Khalid is a senior director at Euro Quality Lamb, a family-run halal abattoir in Shropshire. He said the lack of an accredited assurance scheme was holding the halal market back.
“Customers should be given the full information and make the decision [about stunning] themselves,” he said.
“At the moment there is no scheme to build and manage trust. Effective communication will drive the marketplace.”
Mr Allen said: “We will have another halal forum in February and by this time next year I would like to think we would have a mark that we can start to put out there.”