Is It Kosher?

Halal and Kosher Meat

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The Great Halal and Kosher Meat Debate

Halal and kosher is a hot topic. With the morality of religious slaughtering methods being called into question following recent law changes in Denmark, EMDM explores both sides of the debate.

Denmark recently banned the slaughter of animals in order to produce halal and kosher meat, after it was ruled that unnecessary suffering was inflicted and that animal rights should come before religion. Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 17.13.57

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This has caused outrage among some religious groups. Both Jewish and Muslim leaders have said the ban was an interference of their religious freedom, while animal welfare groups are calling it a landmark victory.

This has reignited the debate here in the UK. But what actually makes meat halal or kosher, aside from the little ‘K’ or حلال on the label?

According to The Kosher Report, the throat of the animal is cut in one swipe and the blood is drained. In the UK, this method of slaughter is only considered humane if the animal is first stunned with a bolt to the head.

But both Jewish and Muslim guidelines state that the animal must be alive and conscious when its throat is cut. WHY. It’s a grey area.

Chef Frederik Page works at South Kensington restaurant, Bibendum, which he says uses both halal, kosher and non-religiously slaughtered meat. “We get in halal meat because that’s what they [our suppliers] supply. I don’t think it’s labelled on our menus though.”

To ban or not to ban?

Ed Walters co-owns The Parsons Nose butchers in Fulham, he doesn’t think the UK should follow Denmark in banning halal and kosher meat but believes that all animals deserve to be killed in the most humane way possible.

“I don’t really agree with it, but I don’t think it needs to be banned…There isn’t much call for it [halal or kosher meat] in Fulham. Nobody’s ever come in and asked for it, though I do occasionally get halal chickens in.”

Regulating slaughter

The main problem is regulating abattoirs, European regulations state that animals must be stunned before they are slaughtered. A  report by the RSPCA published in 2013, estimated that around 10% of sheep and goats and 3% of cattle are not stunned before being killed.

Lufti Radwan set up the UK’s only organic halal farm, together with his wife and children, after witnessing the poor conditions some animals are reared in.

In a BBC interview, he said: “We felt neither the welfare side of taking care of animals or the ritual side of mentioning God’s name was observed very well in the modern food industry.”

He believes education about where our food comes from will help people make more informed choices when it comes to buying meat.

The laws regarding kosher and halal meat are not currently under review but it’s a topic over which many people are divided. We’d love to hear your views answer our poll or leave a reply below.

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