Not just any ha­lal meals... these are M&S

Scottish Daily Mail - - The Brexmas Election - By Sean Poul­ter Con­sumer Af­fairs Editor

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.’

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