The legitimacy of Halal meat

Fuseini, A., Wotton, S. B., Knowles, T. G., & Hadley, P. J. (2017). Halal Meat Fraud and Safety Issues in the UK: A Review in the Context of the European Union. Food Ethics, 1-16.

It has been predicted that if current trends continue, the global Muslim population will continue to increase, resulting in a greater demand for Halal meat. In recent years, there has been concerns around the legitimacy of meat labeled as Halal.

Using dietary laws outlined in the Quran and Hadith, Halal meat providers follow a set of instructions in order to correctly prepare their meat. The term ‘Halal’ itself means lawful, and does not refer solely to meat products. To be considered Halal, meat must be: from a species considered acceptable, from a healthy animal, and from an animal where adequate time for blood to leave the body was permitted. The Quran forbids the consumption of blood, hence why it is held as high importance for Muslims to consume meat that has as little blood remaining as possible (as it is not possible for a complete loss of blood).

Halal meat providers must be better certified

As the demand for Halal meat increases, so does the number of Halal Certification Bodies (HCBs). Halal meat providers have a desire to maximise profits, resulting in market competition. Due to this, several fraud cases have occurred, including: the mislabeling of non-Halal meat as Halal, the production of counterfeit Halal labels and the misrepresentation of the animals in meat products. HCBs aim to provide consumers with a guarantee of legitimate Halal meat by assessing methods used be Halal meat providers. However, as HCB certificates can be expensive, business can self-certify themselves, which is dependent on trust with local customers.

The Halal meat industry aims to eradicate food crimes and to develop an international definition of Halal meat (which includes the debate over whether or not to stun animals prior to slaughter). Such developments can aid HCBs and food business operators in providing Muslim customers with accurate information about legitimate Halal meat providers. In addition, greater international control of providers could help to reduce the safety concerns associated with Halal meat production.

World Animal Protection’s view

In some instances, Halal slaughter methods involve slaughtering animals without pre-stunning the animals first, we believe that all animals should be stunned before slaughter. We also recognise the importance of respecting religious customs and beliefs. Therefore, when working to improve Halal meat standards, it is critical that stakeholders work together to ensure that animal welfare standards are met and consumers can be confident in the labeling of the meat they purchase.