Harrow halal plan raises Jewish shechitah fears

By Jessica Elgot, August 12, 2010

Shechita UK have expressed concerns over a backlash against kosher meat after parents and animal rights groups protested against the new halal school dinners offered by Harrow Council.

Newspaper reports claimed that residents were worried about "the methods used to slaughter animals in this way".

Parent Sheila Murphy told the Harrow Observer: "The Farm Animal Welfare Council has lobbied the government to get kosher and halal slaughter banned. The method is deemed cruel by some animal-lovers."

Shechita UK spokesman Shimon Cohen said the group would distance itself from the row over animal rights and halal meat, and objected to reports which "lumped together halal and kosher meat out of ignorance".

He said: "It's ill-informed and it's not helpful to us. It comes from the nasty language used to describe kosher and halal meat - that we 'slit' the animal's throat, when in fact that is how every animal in the country is killed.

"Our methods are different to halal methods, halal meat is not kosher. The only similarity is we do not stun the animal first, the slaughter is done by a skilled shochet and the result is a much quicker, painless death.

"Serving kosher meat at non-Jewish schools in Barnet, for example, is something the Jewish community would never dream of asking for. If you want to eat kosher at a non-Jewish school, take a packed lunch."

Primary schools in Harrow may now opt for halal meals, prepared in a "hub" by Harrison's catering. Harrow council has insisted halal catering will not be foisted upon schools.

A spokesman for Harrow council said: "It is simply not correct that Harrow Council is insisting that its schools serve only Halal meat. The schools are in full control of decisions relating to school meals and are free to choose who provides this service."

Last updated: 2:18pm, August 12 2010