CLARIFICATION: Cadbury reminds UK consumers that chocolate doesn’t contain meat
Cadbury’s social media team had to work overtime last week, after a ‘Cadbury Halal certificate’ circulated online and caused outrage.
It started when someone shared a picture of a man holding halal certificates in front of a Cadbury’s sign, captioned: “Cadbury proudly displaying their latest new halal certificates, pass it on.”
The image, which appears to be from an article about Cadbury Malaysia being given official halal status years ago, left UK consumers questioning what the chocolate they were eating actually contained.
Consumers took to Twitter to bombard Cadbury with their concerns about what they were eating, and what exactly made the chocolate halal.
As conspiracy theories spiralled out of control, the popular chocolate makers were also accused of taking the word “Easter” off their Easter eggs, with groups calling for a boycott of their products.
Cadbury has denied that they will be removing the word “Easter” from their products – they also reminded consumers that chocolate does not contain meat.
A spokesperson for Mondelez, the company that owns Cadbury, said: “In the UK, our chocolate products are suitable for vegetarians and those following a halal diet - however, they are not halal certified.
“As our chocolate products do not contain meat… the only animal-related products we use in our British chocolate are milk and eggs.
“We take care to point it out, if and when our products are suitable for certain sections of society who take an interest in the ingredients and manufacturing process.
“Elsewhere in the world, we may label products with any number of certifications based on consumer interest and dietary requirements, and the best place for consumers to find that information is on the product label in that country.
“However, Cadbury welcomes consumers of all faiths and none.”
CRIMES HAVE SPIKED: Racist crimes have sky-rocketed since Britain decided to leave the EU
Significant spike in hate crimes since the EU vote
In the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, a number of racist hate crimes have taken place in the UK.
Tell Mama, a charity that supports victims of Islamophobia in the UK, says 30 cases of anti-Muslim acts have been reported to them since the results of the referendum.
DESTROYED: The butchers was obliterated both inside and out, after the petrol bomb left the store badly fire damaged
Days after Britain voted in favour of Brexit, a halal butchers was petrol bombed and destroyed.
Kashmir Meat & Poultry in Pleck, Walsall was targeted by a six foot tall white man wearing a blue jacket, police have reported.
He walked into the halal butchers and threw a lit bottle at 5.25pm on Monday 27th June.
A shop worker managed to escape with minor bruising, whilst the store was almost obliterated with its windows blown out.
West Midlands Police say they are keeping an open mind over the motive.
A spokesperson for the force said the incident is being investigated by officers, who are currently making inquiries and examining CCTV footage.
Police were unable to say at this stage whether the incident is being treated as race-related.
Detectives were examining CCTV from the area this past week in the hunt for the suspect and will also be in the community to carry out patrols to reassure people.
Crime site True Vision, which is run by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said they have received 85 hate crime reports last week. That figure contrasts with 54 reports for the corresponding four days four weeks ago.
Whether you own a restaurant, takeaway or catering business, there is only one supplier you need for all your halal approved meat and poultry requirements.
Northern Halal Meat and Poultry has a history of over 25 years and has since grown into the north’s largest halal EC-approved cutting plant.
Providing chicken, lamb and mutton to businesses across the country, the wholesalers have built up a reputation for supplying only the finest cuts to its ever-growing client-base.
Taking pride in their high standards of work, from customer service to hygiene in the work place, Northern Halal Meat and ` is regulated by the Food Standard agency.
Every abattoir and slaughterhouse affiliated with the company has been Halal-approved by Halal Regulating Bodies, with regular checks and inspections carried out to ensure quality remains at an optimum level.
The business was even nominated for ‘Business of the Year’ in the Asian Business Awards 2014, as it continues to raise the bar for competitors in the industry.
Idris Husayn, director at Northern Halal Meat and Poultry, explained how the business had successfully grown into the north’s favourite wholesaler.
“Our family has been in this trade for over 25 years, providing the finest cuts of meat and poultry to businesses across the UK,” he said.
“We pride ourselves on three core values – quality, honesty and service. Our links with abattoirs and slaughterhouses in the UK have been built on these ideals whilst the only thing that is paralleled to the quality of our products, is the quality of the service.
“We specialise in custom cut meat and can meet any order you require.”
Hundreds of businesses already stock Northern Halal Meat and Poultry produce and now it is your chance to join the growing list of happy customers.
With nationwide delivery available, contact the business today and see for yourself why the cutting plant already provides products to some of the biggest names in the UK’s restaurant industry.
HEATED: Philip Hollobone MP led the debate on religious slaughter in Westminster Hall where speakers from across the political spectrum gave their views
MP argues that there was antisemitism and Islamophobia "lurking" behind some arguments against religious slaughter without stunning the animal
“Religious minorities rightly feel picked on and scrutinised, as if to say their way of life was cruel. It’s an unfair characterisation” Labour MP Shabana Mahmood
"The government have no plans at all to ban religious slaughter. The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that there is no intention to ban religious slaughter.” George Eustice, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Farming and Food
The latest parliamentary discussion on the future of the stunning of all animals, before religious slaughter, led to a heated three-hour debate in Westminster Hall last week.
Calls to legislate the practice have seen MPs put forward robust defences of kosher and halal religious slaughtering methods, sparking a debate in which more than a dozen speakers from across the political spectrum gave their views.
The debate on Monday 23rd February was called after a British Veterinary Association-backed petition calling for a ban on non-stun slaughter generated 100,000 signatures in nine months. However, politicians highlighted a similar petition, in favour of continuing religious slaughter, which has attracted more than 123,000 signatures in a week.
Ahead of the session, campaign group Shechita UK had said the British Veterinary Association was ‘negligent, obsessed and politically driven’ in its arguments against religious slaughter.
Labour MP Shabana Mahmood said there had been a degree of hysteria around the issue.
“Religious minorities rightly feel picked on and scrutinised, as if to say their way of life was cruel. It’s an unfair characterisation,” she said.
Currently 80 per cent of animals killed in halal slaughters are pre-stunned.
Conservative MP Philip Hollobone, opening the debate, said he believed there was an ‘overwhelming number of people who want to see non-stun slaughter ended in this country’.
Campaigners’ concerns related to animal welfare, he said, and were not prompted by opposition to religious beliefs. But he admitted it was impossible to discuss the issue without considering the religious perspective as well.
Mr Hollobone called for clearer labelling to show how animals had been killed, with a better indication given to consumers of whether the animal had been stunned or not, and whether the food was kosher or halal.
But Conservative MP for South East Cambridgeshire - Sir James Paice said it would be seen as ‘racist’ if labels differentiated between meat items produced as a result of religious slaughter and those that were not.
Sir James Paice, added that his visit to a halal abattoir had convinced him that post-cut stunning – when an animal was rendered senseless after being shot with a bolt through the head immediately after having its throat cut – could have a ‘significant’ impact on religious slaughter. It would be a compromise that may suit most parties in the process, he said.
Mike Freer, Finchley and Golders Green MP, said he believed the public was ‘completely divided’ on the topic, and that there was antisemitism and Islamophobia ‘lurking’ behind some arguments against religious slaughter.
MPs voted only on whether they agreed that the issue had been debated, rather than on whether they were in favour of religious slaughter or not.
George Eustice, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for farming and food, repeated the government's preference for pre-stunning.
He added: “The government have no plans at all to ban religious slaughter. The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that there is no intention to ban religious slaughter. However, everyone agrees that we need good enforcement of our existing legislation.”
Mr Eustice said the government would begin a series of unannounced, random inspections of British slaughterhouses.
Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “The British Veterinary Association (BVA) should stop fanning the hysteria around religious slaughter and ‘get real’ on the true priority of animal welfare.
“If the BVA are genuinely concerned about animal welfare, we need to hear what they are doing about the duty of veterinarians to ensure the welfare of animals in the slaughterhouses, at all times, given the abuses reported.”
Maulana Yunus Dughala on behalf of the Halal Monitoring Committee UK says: “How many members of the public, or indeed, Members of Parliament are actually aware of the greater abuse and longer-term suffering of animals before they reach the slaughterhouse? How many have bothered to find out about the abuses that are occurring in non-religious slaughterhouses, including those labelled as organic?
“The UK’s largest animal rights group, Animal Aid, which has secretly filmed inside eleven UK abattoirs since 2009, has found ten of these breaking the law. How many of the investigated abattoirs were for non-stunned halal meat? Only one - the other nine abuses Animal Aid recorded were at slaughterhouses for non-halal slaughter.”
Maulana Yunus Dughala says the matter is less about stunning and non-stunning, halal, kosher or non-religious, but about having good robust standards in place with regulations of those standards.
“It is about providing the resources for the MHS (Meat Hygiene Service) to have enough staff that can monitor and observe the welfare of animals across all slaughterhouses. It is about introducing CCTV cameras in abattoirs as an extra assurance for animal welfare,” she said.
Halal and Kosher explained
Muslims require food to be 'halal' and Jews 'shechita'. Both involve methods of slaughter that mean the animal has to be conscious before it is killed, that is not stunned first, which is the usual method in British slaughterhouses.
These are two religions which place great value on observing dietary laws and is part of what identifies a Muslim as a Muslim or a Jew as a Jew, not just to outsiders but to themselves. Muslims believe the rules of slaughtering animals derive from the Qu'ran; Jews from book of Deuteronomy.
The name for the halal method of slaughter is 'dhabiha' and one of the certifying bodies for halal food - the Halal Food Authority, does allow electrical stunning for sheep and poultry as long as the animal doesn't die. Animals are killed with a swift incision to the throat from a razor sharp blade. The animal must never see another animal being slaughtered nor must it ever see the blade being sharpened. They must be checked before slaughter to ensure they are healthy and given clean water to drink. Then they are turned to face Mecca, the prayer is recited, the jugular vein and carotid arteries are cut – leaving the spinal cord intact – and the blood drained from the carcass.
Shechita requires the animal has to be conscious and is carried out by a shoket – which involves a super-sharp blade called a chalaf being used to sever the throat. The blood is then drained.
Campaigners against religious slaughter argue that stunning the animal first is kinder. Different methods are used: gas stunning, which slowly renders the creature unconscious (birds and pigs are actually killed like this too); percussive stunning, used for cattle and sheep, in which a captive bolt is used to render it unconscious before it's hoisted into the air by one leg and stuck by the slaughterman; and electrical stunning, which involves passing a current through the brain. For sheep, this means shocking them with tongs on their heads; for birds, it involves hanging them by the feet and dipping them in an electrified water bath before the belt moves them on to a mechanical neck-cutter.
For the past number of weeks, halal has been top of the menu for different media across the country yet why has it suddenly become such an issue despite being prevalent for hundreds of years?
Every other season, a new anti-Islamic debate seems to arise and, whether it be in relation to the hijab or grooming gangs, the finger is often pointed towards Muslims by members of society.
The latest epidemic seems to revolve around the method of slaughter, known as ‘halal’, which many far-right supporters have backed a ban on.
Currently, the Halal Food Authority (HFA) estimate that just 15 per cent of meat slaughtered in Britain is halal compliant to adhere to the needs of the 2.4million Muslims currently living in the UK.
For meat to be constituted as halal, an animal, which is alive, must be slaughtered in a particular way, with a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe. A prayer, known as ‘tasmiya’ or ‘shahada’, will then be said to complete the process.
Despite causing a media storm over recent weeks, it seems that campaigners against the meat are still in the minority.
In Wakefield, West Yorkshire, we went into three butchers, with only one employee at an unnamed premise, saying that people had specifically asked not to be served halal meat.
In the city’s Hoffman and Son’s, butcher, Andrew Brook, said he had not noticed any change in the number of customers speaking about halal.
“If people wanted halal, they would just go to one of the many halal butchers we have in the city so I don’t really think it is that big of an issue,” he said.
“We have had some people talk about it but no, what you would call, White British customers have specifically said they don’t want halal produce.”
It seems the word on the street is also very similar to that which Mr Brook had said, with all four members of the public saying they didn’t feel anything was wrong with the current halal situation in the UK.
Earlier this week, MPs rejected an attempt to force shops, supermarkets and anywhere serving food to clearly label products containing halal or kosher meat.
Philip Davies, MP for Shipley, had proposed the amendment to consumer rights yet his plans were rejected by a substantial 281 votes to 17.
Being a Muslim I obviously think it’s important to have it stated on a menu whether something is halal or not. For the rest of community or religions, it doesn’t matter if it is halal or not in that respect.
If somebody doesn’t want to eat halal because of their own personal reasons, such as the way it is killed, then they shouldn’t have to, it’s visa-versa really. It’s the same rules for everyone; we should all have the choice of halal or non-halal.
The thing is now, we live in such a big market where food is concerned that it has to be specified where halal is concerned.
There shouldn’t really be an argument because Russell Brand said ‘you’re killing the animal either way and when something dies it is suffering so it is just a formality’.
I think everybody should have a choice. Some people will want to eat it and others won’t but that is up to them.
It is not an inhumane way to kill an animal I would say because the nerve is cut straight away so there is no feeling after that.
I don’t really know why the debate has begun to rise again, it may be just people listening to what a minority are saying.
I don’t like to really think about how meat is killed or slaughtered anyway. I don’t know how the meat I eat is killed so it doesn’t really make a difference to me.
If I don’t see it then I don’t really think about it in that sense so I would happily eat either.
I guess people who aren’t Muslims could have the choice of halal or not if they wanted but it doesn’t bother me.
I don’t care how my meat is prepared. As long as it is dead and not breathing or poisonous, I don’t care its just food.
I don’t see where the debate comes from in regard to halal. To me if it is meat, it is meat. Halal meat and normal meat doesn’t taste any different so I don’t see any point in arguing about it, it’s just ridiculous.
The animal is being killed anyway, so if somebody is saying a prayer over it, why would it bother me. It’s not going to affect the taste, texture or quality, it’s just meat.
The amount of Muslims in the world is astronomical and as an outcome of these mammoth numbers, the Muslim community represents a huge potential market that many national and international companies and organisations are tapping into.
Muslims today represent 4.8% of the UK population and in Europe the Muslim share of the population is expected to grow by approximately one third over the next two decades.
With increased numbers of Muslims, wider demand for halal compliant produce is rising; recently we have seen the launch of the 100% halal ready meals spearheaded by Shazia Saleem – founder of Ieat Foods. The Ieat website (www.ieatfoods.com) guarantees consumers that their products have been halal certified by a reputable UK certification body.
In direct contrast however, if one peruses our everyday supermarket aisles, we come across a variety of products – from ethnic foods such as samosas to frozen lamb burgers that can go straight onto the barbecue – many with the globally recognised Arabic ‘halal’ emblazoned across the packaging but with no mention of the certification body which has accredited said products as halal.
Self-certification of halal products is rife in Britain; due to the vast Muslim consumer market there is a want and need for more halal products and as a direct result, more consumer choice.
Consumers do not want to feel excluded when they do their weekly shop, they want to go to the supermarket and have as much as choice in the products they buy as their non-Muslim friends, colleagues and peers.
Despite this, it remains imperative to understand where the products we are eating have actually come from. If a product has ‘halal’ written on it, can we fully trust it?
If a company is marketing their products as halal, the meat may be from a halal source, but has the entire production process been halal approved? Is the said product free of all non-halal additives and E-numbers? Is it free of non-halal oils and fats? Are the emulsifiers that have been used 100% sourced from halal slaughtered animals? If yeast has been used in the finished product – was it autolysed or brewer’s yeast? If cheese has been used in a product, is animal rennet or pepsin used in the cheese production? When the processed foods are transported, are suitable transportation methods put in place to stop halal products from being contaminated by non-halal items?
These are just a few of the questions that need to be considered to ensure a product is 100% halal.
All of the above need to be taken into account and looked at in depth – a task that is undertaken by halal certification bodies across the world.
The method by which the animal has been slaughtered is not the only factor that solely determines halal compliance and this is something that consumers need to understand. CEO of the UK certification body Halal Food Authority (HFA), Saqib Mohammed, tells me that: “merely having the word ‘halal’ in any transcript depicted on product packaging means next to nothing unless said product has been independently certified by recognised halal certification body(ies) depicting their registered logo.
“We at the HFA strongly discourage the use of self-certification and will consumers to seek further information to unveil probable misrepresentation or abuse of the term ‘halal’”.
Echoing the sentiments of the HFA above, the term ‘halal’ can be put onto a product but this does not mean that the entire production process of the product in question has been looked at from start to finish.
The question “how are we supposed to know what is halal and what isn’t?” may arise by the time you have gotten to this stage in the article, and the truth of the matter is – if you don’t ask you won’t know. Consumers need to become proactive to ensure that they are not eating any products that would not be seen as permissible in accordance to Islamic law.
When stocking up your trolleys on the weekly shop, before you put the halal goodies in, take a look at the back of the product to see if the logo of a reputable, trustworthy certification body has been put on the packaging, if not a logo – is there any mention of the halal certification body that certifies the company?
If not, before purchasing the product, enquire about its halal compliance. With the rise in social networking, asking questions and making informed decisions has never been easier.
The growing numbers of self-certified products are purely down to the fact that there is a place in the global halal market for them to exist; if consumers seek something and the want is large enough then gaps will be filled.
If more consumers question and contest self-certified halal products and refuse to purchase items that they cannot fully trust, the amount of self-certified businesses who ‘assure’ Muslims that their products are halal will begin to dwindle – and as a result, the lucrative halal market will be left with dependable products that are categorically 100% halal.
Seek the knowledge. Be informed. Share your findings.
By Zéna Butt,
Halal Food Foundation