Will unstunned halal meat stay on Lancashire school dinner's menu?

Council leader County Coun Geoff Driver
Council leader County Coun Geoff Driver

A decision on whether Lancashire schools will in future serve halal meat butchered only from  pre-stunned animals is to be made by county councillors today.

The controversial animal welfare issue is to be debated at county hall this afternoon.

Councillors will be allowed a free vote on the issue.

Halal meat is meat slaughtered and prepared according to Islamic and Sharia law. There is dissent within the Muslim community about whether pre-stunning of animals before they are slaughtered is permissable .

A report to councillors has warned that if the decision favours using stunned animals only it could lead to a boycott of school meals by some halal meat eaters.

The same issue caused a boycott of lunches by many Muslim children in 2012.

But with the council’s meat supply contract up for renewal the council is now reviewing its policy.

County Coun Geoff Driver, leader of the county council, requested a review of the council’s current policy of supplying both stunned and unstunned meat to schools in June. He has gone on record saying he believes it is a welfare issue and with modern stunning methods there is no need for an animal to suffer before slaughter.

A spokesperson for the council said: “In view of the strongly-held opinions on the subject, it was agreed that the issue will be considered at the next full council meeting with a decision going to a free vote, to enable members to vote according to their conscience.”

In all 27 schools supply halal meat as part of their school menu and all have chosen the unstunned option. Up to 12,000 pupils would be affected by a change in policy.

There is also concern Jewish parents and pupils may feel “adversely affected” if the unstunned option was removed, as similar requirements for unstunned meat apply to kosher food

A report to councillors says schools in Preston and Ribble Valley would be among those affected.