In two letters sent to Muslim parents in the area, the Lancashire Council of Mosques (LCM) urged Muslim parents not to allow their children to eat meat or chicken at Lancashire County Council (LCC) schools. One letter said: “Suppliers of ‘halal’ products are not accredited by any halal certifying organisation that is in line with the halal criteria adopted by the LCM.”
The LCM described how the schools of Lancashire fell into four categories where halal certification was concerned. It said there were those schools certified by the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC); contracted by the Lancashire County Commercial Services (LCCS); self-managed; or under contract with the Local Education Partnership (LEP).
According to LCM chair Salim Mulla, only schools providing meat certified by the HMC can say the meat is halal, meaning Muslim children can eat meat at those schools.
However, on further investigation, MeatInfo.co.uk discovered that none of the food served by LCC schools was certified by the HMC, rather a mix of several agencies, including the Universal Halal Agency (UHA), the Halal Food Authority (HFA), the European Halal Development Board Agency (EHDA) and the Halal Authority Board (HAB).
County councillor Geoff Driver, who is leader of LCC, told MeatInfo.co.uk: “It is disappointing that LCM should make these misleading claims.
“We understand from the Food Standards Agency, which consults with national Muslim bodies, that there are a number of acceptable halal certifying agencies. All of our suppliers’ products are certified by such agencies.”
President of the HFA Khawaja Mahsood explained that what is halal was not dictated by any organisation, rather the Quran and the laws in Britain relating to the legal slaughter of animals – the Welfare of Animals Regulation.
Khawaja said of the LCM: “It’s only a group of people on their own sitting down making the law, which is against the spirit of British law and that of Muslim law.”
Glendale Foods supplies halal meat products to Lancashire schools and is accredited by the HAB. Glendale Foods technical director Stuart Newman said: “The issue with halal is that [the certifiers] are all companies that have set themselves up and ask for different things.
“All our food products we supply as halal are halal, because all of the ingredients that go into them are halal. We do two trace checks a year to satisfy BRC and we are BRC grade ‘A’ as well.”