United Kingdom

David Cameron Won't Get Involved in Halal Furor


Credit: bisgovuk/Foter

Earlier today Jesse Walker noted the stupidity of the Daily Mail front page featuring a prominent headline reading, "Millions Are Eating Halal Food Without Knowing It." The Mail's article explains that some supermarket chains in the U.K. do not label meat that is halal. As Walker points out, the story doesn't have much at all to do with concerns about animal cruelty but has a lot to do with the fear "that that meat certified as halal carries some sort of Islamic cooties."

Thankfully, British Prime Minister David Cameron has decided not to get involved in the supposed controversy. A Cameron spokesman said that the prime minister believes that the issue of halal meat labelling is "an issue of consumer choice and consumer information," and that "it is a matter for retailers and restaurants to work with customers and consumer groups and representatives of faith organisations."

Good. Cameron may be a fan of unnecessary and paternalistic policies, but it's refreshing to see that he doesn't feel the need to get involved in this particular issue, which can be dealt with outside of government. The BBC notes that Cameron's spokesman added that the prime minister believes customers being demanding of retailers is "absolutely the right" approach.

The BBC goes on to mention that if those calling for halal meat to be labeled are concerned about animal cruelty, labelling will not be at all helpful:

Simply labelling food as halal is not the answer, said Robin Hargreaves, president of the British Veterinary Association, which campaigns for an end to non-stunned slaughter.

Mr Hargreaves told the BBC most halal meat had been stunned before slaughter, but added: "The problem is, if you just talk about labelling halal, it doesn't help you at all because you don't know which are stunned and which aren't."

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    1. I think we need to see his birth certificate. The long form one.

  1. People are too picky about what they eat. Anthony Bourdain’s philosophy is that eating should be an adventure. You might get sick, but give different foods at least a try.

    1. Andrew Zimmerns philosophy is pretty much the same, but with more penis.

      1. Zimmer eats rancid meat. That’s a bridge too far.

      2. And more eyeball

    2. And my philosophy is that all I need are the four major food groups: American, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian.

      Everything else you can give to my dog (just no grapes, chocolate, avocados, or chicken bones please).

      1. Mediterranean food (Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern) is the best food ever. Don’t like goat brain? Sucks for you; it’s tasty.

      2. That’s actually a pretty good food quartet . There’s other good food, no doubt, but I could easily live off those four forever.

    3. I agree, but “different” is one thing, “questionable preparation” is another. And I don’t mean halal. I mean food poisoning. I puked for hours after having bad sweet-and-sour pork in college. I couldn’t stand the sight of rice, let alone anything else in Chinese cuisine for several years. Fortunately, Vietnamese cuisine cured me.

      1. Ha, it’s Vietnamese that got me years ago. And Mexican. I’ve had food poisoning several times because, like Bourdain, I tend to just go for it and eat everything. Funnily enough what got me with the Vietnamese was a meatless eggplant dish. I guess they didn’t wash their hands.

        1. I find it interesting that the Vietnamese poisoned you and healed me. It’s kind of symmetric.

          I was also blessed by a Vietnamese woman in LA’s Chinatown, which may have something to do with it. I plan to have her curse you again.

  2. Cameron may be a fan of unnecessary and paternalistic policies, but it’s refreshing to see that he doesn’t feel the need to get involved in this particular issue, which can be dealt with outside of government.

    Food labelling is an exclusive EU competency, so of course Cameron won’t get involved. I wonder why that spokesperson is lying his ass off?

    1. I’m not sure the government should be involved in food labeling, but as long as it is, it should only label components that give distinct characteristics to the food.

      “GMO” is b.s. because every single crop in the world has been “genetically altered” by human beings since the beginning of agricultural civilization.

      But “Warning: contains peanuts” might be worth putting on the packaging.

      1. The slaughtering method for sure affects the meat, but you won’t notice it too much with all those additives and salt.

        1. Let me get this straight. Halal doesn’t use stunning, right?

          I’m not up-to-date on the science, but aren’t there concerns that stunning cattle leads to the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathic tissue to the rest of the carcass?

          Now, I’m not saying that you should avoid meat that was stunned before slaughtering, but you can’t avoid some risks.

          1. Not sure about that, I would think there is a blood-brain barrier?

            1. From what I’ve read, because captive bolt pistols actually penetrate the brain itself, it can release encephalopathic tissue into the blood stream. (The heart is still pumping.)

              I’m not sure if this has been scientifically validated, but it seems to indicate a safety trade-off with regards to stun slaughtering.

          2. I read that some halal meat in the UK does use stunning before slaughter. Although I’m not sure that all Muslims would consider that halal.

            I just think it’s sad that the UK seems to give in to religious pressure so quickly.

      2. But “Warning: contains peanuts” might be worth putting on the packaging.

        Except we wind up having to have that pasted on a can of Planters.

        1. Look Bill, I need that information. How else would I know if my Pay-Day was manufactured in a facility that also processes nuts?

  3. What I don’t understand is why a company would go to the added expense of buying Halal meat and NOT telling their customers (especially the Muslim ones) that it’s Halal. What is the point otherwise? If I’m Muslim and it doesn’t say Halal, I would assume it’s not, and therefore not buy it.

    Something seems really dumb about this story.

    1. And I am pretty sure I know what it is.

      This is a scare drummed up by the anti-meat people. It’s purpose is to get people to eat less meat, thats all.

  4. Apparently small coffee houses near Waitrose grocery stores are up in arms about Waitrose’s new initiative to give each shopper a free cup of coffee with their purchase, seeking government intervention.

    Cameron told them to bugger off. It’s not all insane over here.

    Waitrose rocks by the way.

    1. The way funnier thing was Waitrose customers getting upset about all the Tesco shoppers who came in just for their free coffees.

      (It wasn’t with purchase, but for holders of the Waitrose loyalty card. Maybe they changed it to cut down on this problem.)

      1. Another commenter from this side of the pond then?

  5. “Earlier today Jesse Walker noted the stupidly** of the Daily Mail front page,” umm, shouldn’t that read “stupidity”? Looks like it’s time to go Reagan on those proofreaders.


      Oh, never mind.

  6. Meanwhile, Vermont now requires labeling for foods that have GMO cooties.

  7. Slightly OT:

    Guess who has come out en masse against Islamic Sharia Law?

    Hollywood!!!! (protests against Sultan of Brunei)

    I have finally found the perfect example of Irony.

  8. Robin Hargreaves is simply wrong that food labelling won’t help deal with animal cruelty. He’s right that if it says “halal” you still don’t know whether it was stunned. But if there was a comprehensive labelling system, such that you knew if something *wasn’t* halal, then you’d know for sure that it had been stunned, because it’s a legal requirement. Those concerned about cruelty could then strictly buy non-halal meat.

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