Councillors vote for ban on Halal meat in schools
COUNCILLORS have voted to ban the supply of unstunned Halal meat in schools.
In the free vote, a majority of county councillors opted to support banning un-stunned Halal meat in schools and Lancashire County Council (LCC) establishments, with the exception of poultry.
The controversial motion put forward by LCC’s Conservative leader Geoff Driver had prompted a heated debate, both in and out of the chamber, on the ethics of killing animals that had not been stunned before slaughter.
But at a full meeting at county hall, Coun Driver said it was purely an ‘animal welfare issue’ and did not target religious groups. He said: “I want to emphasise that this is an animal welfare issue, nothing more nothing less. It is not anti-Semitic and it is not anti-Muslim as sadly some people are trying to make it out to be. The fact that this is before us now is for no other reason than the fact that the contract is up for renewal.”
Coun Driver exempted poultry from the ban as stunning chickens may kill them before slaughter which contravenes Muslim religious rules. He added: “In this day and age there is simply no need for animals to suffer such stress, pain and discomfort.
“It is a fact that 84 per cent of Halal meat in this country comes from animals that were stunned before they were slaughtered. It would appear that the Lancashire Council of Mosques is out of step with the huge majority of Muslims and Muslim scholars in this country.”
Labour Coun Mohammed Iqbal had spoken in favour of an amendment to delay the decision until a full consultation with affected schools had been carried out, but it was defeated. He said: “Is it the case that we do not trust children to make a freedom of choice at that school county?”
Some fear the decision could spark a repeat of the widespread boycott of school dinners after a similar proposal was raised in 2013 and the Lancashire Council of Mosques insisted that only meat from nonstunned animals met its strict interpretation of Islamic dietary rules.
The Halal Food Authority states that Halal meat is that which adheres to an Islamic ritual called Zabihah, which requires animals to be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter, but there are differences of opinion within Muslim communities as to exact definition of what constitutes Halal.
Coun Peter Britcliffe told the meeting: “They will have the choice of Halal meat it will just be that it won’t be unstunned Halal meat. I really don’t see the problem.”
Townfield Care’s annual awards ceremony was held at Great Harwood Golf Club