Thousands of customers at some of Britain’s biggest restaurant chains and sporting venues are being given ‘halal-only’ meat options.
The revelations, from a Mail on Sunday investigation, follow uproar over a London council’s plans to prefer Islamic halal-only menus in the borough’s state primary schools and news that British Airways passengers could soon be given halal-only meals.
Now it has emerged that much if not all of the meat at Wembley Stadium, a large London hospital and the Whitbread hotel and restaurant chain is halal.
Halal meat is prepared according to Sharia law by cutting an animal’s throat while a Muslim butcher recites a religious verse.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust in London and the Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation only serve halal meat.
Football fans at Wembley Stadium wanting beef, chicken and lamb are also only given a halal-meat option while rugby supporters at Twickenham can only buy halal chicken.
The Mail on Sunday reported Cheltenham College public school, which says it has a “strong Christian ethos” serves halal chicken to pupils without informing them.
The investigation also revealed that more than three-quarters of the poultry at Britain’s biggest hotel and restaurant group, Whitbread, is halal. Whitbread owns Beefeater, Brewers Fayre and Premier Inn.
The owner of the Harvester and Toby Carvery chains also uses halal meat. A spokesman was unable to give details of what percentage of their meat was halal.
“I don’t object to people of different religious groups being catered for but it’s not something that should be imposed on everybody else”, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell said.
Mr Rosindell, who is also secretary of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, continued: “The vast majority of people in this country would not want meat of this origin.
“The outlets have a duty to let their customers know because some will object very strongly, not least because of the animal welfare implications of halal.”
An RSPCA spokesman said: “The public have a right to know how their meat is produced. Many people are extremely concerned about animal welfare. What the Mail on Sunday has discovered shows that people are not being kept informed.”
Restaurant chain Whitbread told the Daily Mail that the firm demanded poultry is “pre-stunned prior to slaughter”.
The Mail on Sunday itself also hit out at the revelations saying customers needed to know if their meat was halal.
It said: “The reticence of public bodies and private companies about this matter results from the same force which affects so many other areas of our national life multiculturalism, allied with political correctness.
“No doubt it is costlier to provide everyone with a choice. But if similar methods were secretly adopted by slaughterhouses purely to save money, there would be a major public controversy.
“Sensible tolerance rightly permits Kosher and Halal butchers to slaughter animals using the methods required by their faiths. But the stealthy introduction of ritually slaughtered meat into British daily life goes far beyond tolerance”, it added.
In August Harrow Council in London provoked a storm of protest after it announced its halal-only menus plans.
Parents were outraged that meat prepared according to Islamic Sharia law was being pushed on non-Muslim children.
Contracts signed with the Council’s preferred catering company, Harrison’s, stipulated that only halal meat was to be served.
The Council claimed the plan was needed to overcome difficulties in keeping halal meat separate from non-halal meat.
It has since said it will postpone the move, because of, in part, “the level of interest from parents”, and will revisit the issue.
Earlier this month it was revealed British Airways passengers could be given halal-only meals under plans being considered by the world’s largest provider of airline food.
GateGourmet, which caters for all long haul British Airways flights from Heathrow airport, claimed the contentious proposal would save money.