Not just any halal meals... these are M&S
MARKS & Spencer is to become the first mainstream food giant to sell ownlabel halal ready meals in stores with a large number of Muslim shoppers.
Most supermarkets already sell branded halal products, from names such as Shazans, while many takeaways, butchers and food chains sell only halal meat.
But M&S says its ‘cruelty-free’ products, which include chicken ready meals, ranging from curries to Italian dishes and a hot pot, are a first. At the same time, the company is trying to broaden its range to attract others who want food that meets their own ethical approach with, for example, the
Plant Kitchen range catering for the increasing number of vegans.
Historically, slaughter methods for halal and kosher meat have been controversial as they did not allow animals to be prestunned before being killed with a knife.
Critics, including the British Veterinary Association, have long been concerned that animals that are not stunned can suffer, particularly if the slaughterman is careless or not trained properly. M&S says all the
British chicken used in its halal ready meals, which are sold in distinctive orange packs, is certified by the Halal food Authority (HFA) with does allow pre-stunning.
The birds are given a form of electro-stunning, which makes them unconscious and is approved by the Humane Slaughter Association. This means the only significant change from conventional slaughter is that the M&S chickens will be killed on premises where the HFA has an official to ensure religious rules are satisfied.
Halal also requires the recitation of a Muslim prayer. Some strict Muslims do not accept pre-stunning and so will not accept the M&S products as halal. The ready meals include chicken arrabbiata, chicken and mushroom tagliatelle, chicken hotpot and chicken tikka masala. M&S said Muslim staff have played a part in creating the ready meals, which will be sold in 36 UK stores and by the company’s international franchise partner Al-futtaim in places such as Singapore and Dubai.
Simon Pollitt-Khan, the M&S store manager at Temple fortune in London, said: ‘There are still very few opportunities to eat different flavoured foods – like Italian or more traditional British dishes – in a convenient halal format.’