McDonald’s has admitted secretly selling halal meat in some of its food, despite previously categorically denying it did any such thing.
The news comes from an investigation by The Mail on Sunday (MoS) newspaper which has uncovered widespread proliferation of halal meat in British institutions.
When McDonald’s was first approached by the newspaper the fast food chain said it did not sell any halal food in the UK.
But on Sunday the newspaper reported that halal chicken was used in some of McDonald’s items including its Chicken McNuggets and McChicken Sandwich in its 1,200 British outlets.
In a statement to The MoS, McDonald’s said: “As a result of your enquiries, our investigation has confirmed that some halal chicken has entered our supply chain without our knowledge, and we apologise to our customers for this.
“While is it not a quality issue, halal chicken is outside of our specification.” It added that the company had received “assurances” from the firm that supplies its poultry that halal meat production from the abattoir has now stopped.
Halal meat is prepared according to Sharia law by cutting an animal’s throat while a Muslim butcher recites a religious verse.
Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, Mike Judge, is among those who have raised concerns, calling for halal meat to be clearly labelled so that consumers can make their own choices.
At the end of last month The MoS reported that supermarkets are selling Islamic halal meat, without marking it as such on the packaging.
The newspaper’s investigation found Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield, the Co-op, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer all stock halal meat.
Since the original article was published, Asda has said it would be “fair to say” that most of its lamb is halal and half of its chicken is halal.
Following complaints by customers, Waitrose is set to introduce non-halal lamb in the Prince of Wales’ Duchy range.
In response to inquiries by the MoS a spokesman for Waitrose said: “We have decided to offer our customers an option to buy lamb which has not received the halal blessing.” However, all the store’s other lamb products will remain halal and will not be labelled as such.
In August Harrow Council in London provoked a storm of protest after it announced plans to prefer Islamic halal-only menus in the borough’s state primary schools.
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 has since said it will postpone the move, because of, in part, “the level of interest from parents”, and will revisit the issue.
In September 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.
The Mail on Sunday has also reported that thousands of customers at some of Britain’s biggest restaurant chains and sporting venues are being given ‘halal-only’ meat options.
Football fans at Wembley Stadium wanting beef, chicken and lamb are only given a halal-meat option while rugby supporters at Twickenham can only buy halal chicken.