Britain’s biggest supermarkets are selling Islamic halal meat, without marking it as such on the packaging.
Halal meat is prepared according to Sharia law by cutting an animal’s throat while a Muslim butcher recites a religious verse.
A Mail on Sunday investigation found Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield, the Co-op, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer (M&S) all stock halal meat.
Jim Paice, Government Minister for Agriculture and Food, said: “People should know what they’re buying in the shops or when they’re eating out and I will be discussing with the food industry the role labelling can play in giving consumers a choice.”
Head of Communications at The Christian Institute, Mike Judge, also called for halal meat to be clearly labelled so that consumers can make their own choices.
The Mail on Sunday’s investigation revealed that fast food chains Domino’s Pizza, KFC, Pizza Hut, Nando’s and Subway all currently sell halal meat without telling customers.
However McDonalds, Burger King and Wimpy say they do not sell any halal food in the UK.
In the case of most of the supermarkets questioned, the New Zealand lamb sold was halal. A spokesman from Tesco told the newspaper that all its New Zealand lamb is halal as is 35 per cent of its UK lamb.
A spokesman from Sainsbury’s said: “The abattoirs that supply us with lamb are licensed by the Muslim authorities and a prayer is said when the animals are killed.”
Asda refused to confirm or deny whether it sells any halal meat.
Dr Richard North, who is a qualified meat inspector, said the reason for so much meat being halal-only was simple: “profit”.
He said with a rise in demand for halal meat, slaughterhouses could either introduce a separate production line or just have one line.
Dr North said the ‘one-size’ method that won out was “the less humane method of killing tailored to the religious demands of just four per cent of the population”.
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.
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.
And last week the Mail on Sunday 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 also only given a halal-meat option while rugby supporters at Twickenham can only buy halal chicken.