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Prison Service: Meat

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 1 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what guidance his Department provides to HM Prison Service on the procurement of halal meat; and whether that guidance differentiates between stunned and pre-stunned meat. (287723)

All Halal denoted products provided via national NOMS supply contracts to prison establishments are accredited by a certifying Islamic body.

There is no agreed national or international standard for Halal products. Additionally differing views in regard to interpretations of Islamic Law, in particular to stunning and mechanical slaughter issues, further compound the difficulty of fully ensuring consumer confidence among all Muslim prisoners when providing meals.

The NOMS Muslim adviser, together with some Muslim chaplains, has consulted widely on the issue of Halal meat. The work culminated in the introduction of a NOMS Halal Standard which has been agreed by senior Muslim scholars from across all the different Muslim schools of thought. It has also been acknowledged by a senior official at the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) as an example of best practice. The Halal Standard together with comprehensive commodity specifications helps ensure that all Muslim prisoners are provided with assured, quality products. Since 1 April 2009, all Halal raw poultry products have been accredited and supplied to this new standard.

If any prisoner has any doubt about the credibility of the Halal menu option offered, despite the introduction of these standards, there is always an option to choose a vegetarian or vegan option as an alternative.

All contracted suppliers are required to comply with Food Quality Standards provided by the authority. This includes the standard for Halal, a copy of which has been placed in the House Library.

The Halal Standard states:

“the animal may be stunned, anaesthetised or otherwise rendered wholly or partially insensible before slaughter.”