British soldiers are eating halal meat without their knowledge, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) has admitted.
Earlier this year it emerged that supermarkets and high street restaurants are selling meat killed in accordance with Islamic law without telling customers – prompting calls for better labelling.
Now, following a Freedom of Information request, the MOD says it “does use Halal and Kosher meat in its meals”.
However, it does not hold information on what percentage of its total meat is killed along Islamic lines, as they said it was a matter for its food supply contractors – Purple Foodservice Solutions Ltd.
Philip Hollobone MP called for the MOD to change its practice.
“I absolutely think they should label the meat they are serving to their servicemen and women. We all want to know what we are eating.
“Religious groups want to know and a lot of people have objections to ritual slaughter”, he said.
The MOD’s policy is “in line with current UK legislation and Government guidelines”, it said, but Hollobone commented: “Just because they don’t have to label food doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.”
The MOD also said: “Troops can ask at the serving point if the food that is being served is halal. There is always an alternative option.”
The Government has said that a review of food labelling would only happen after a European study had taken place.
In May national newspapers reported that big chains including Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and Marks and Spencer were among those not labelling some of their halal meat.
Restaurant chains Pizza Express, ASK and the Slug and Lettuce were also named for their lack of transparency on the issue.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said at the time: “It’s a major public scandal that people are being duped into buying halal food. Supermarkets and restaurants should declare what they’re selling.”
The Muslim Council of Britain and the Chairman of a Jewish animal slaughter group also backed “comprehensive labelling”.
They said this “would offer all consumers genuine choice, whether they are motivated by animal welfare, religious observance, or even intolerance”.
The Sikh Council called for an “urgent change” on the issue, saying: “Consumers are being denied the right to make an informed choice”.