This is not an anti-Muslim post. It is a story about animal cruelty because rather than being killed with a bolt to the head, a halal animal is killed by having it's throat slit and bleeding to death 'in accordance with strict Islamic law.'
When I first heard about halal meat being served in various outlets I thought the media were mischief making. My grandfather was of a generation who fought for the humane slaughtering of animals which resulted in the Humane Slaughter Act of 1933.
Evidence is now readily available that sports fans are being served Halal meat without their knowledge. All beef, chicken and lamb at Wembly, Ascot and Twickenham is halal. Whitbread, which owns Costa Coffee shops and Premier Inn hotels said 80 per cent of its chicken is halal. School children are being fed halal meat and hospital patients - all without their knowledge.
GateGourmet, the Swiss-based catering giant which caters for all long-haul British Airways flights from Heathrow, wants to standardise production to drive down costs and boost profits. Peter van Niekerk, head of GateGroup in the UK, said : "We are competing for some more halal business and when we make that, the scale tips." He said the company would consult with ustomers such as BA and Cathay Pacific to 'manage perceptions and manage such a transition'. No bacon rolls on these flights in future.
Do we need to be informed? Can you taste the difference? If it is says 'halal' on the menu does it matter to you?
Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, secretary of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Animal Welfare, says : "The vast majority of people in this country would not want meat of this origin." Has he done a survey?
I'm reasonably content eating the little meat I do because I know it has been humanely killed. My butcher can easily trace the animal back to the farm of origin. But not all people have easy access to an old-fashioned butcher these days. In supermarkets it can be difficult to assess the origin of meat as the labelling is confusing and the staff appear to be just as confused.
Do I want to eat halal meat? No. I wouldn't be comfortable knowing the process of the animal's death. Meat producers say the demand for halal meat is increasing. Whitbread say they don't specify halal as a requirement in their procurement. They base their decision on quality and price. Some of their halal poultry comes from Turkey. Why would anyone want to eat a chicken which has come all the way from Turkey when we have a thriving poultry industry in the UK? Price.
A couple of years ago I made a conscious decision to stop buying so much 'fresh' food from abroad. Yes I do miss my baby sweetcorn and mangetout but I've found tasty replacements. Bananas, melons and advocados I still purchase but that's about all. There is the other side of the argument of course. High quality Scottish beef, prawns and langoustines are exported to Europe. Would I eat an Aberdeen Angus steak in France? I doubt it because I prefer to eat local produce.
Do I want to be informed I'm eating halal meat without having to ask? Yes.As from now, when I eat out I intend to ask the source of the food I'm eating. If I don't trust the reply then I'll choose the vegetarian option, a pork dish or leave.
We're fortunate enough to have a choice of home-produced food. I'm not suggesting anyone boycott the likes of Whitbread establishments, but I do suggest more of us become aware of the source of what we put in our mouths. We may be surprised - and not pleasantly.