At least ten top higher education establishments – including Oxford and the University of Manchester – are secretly serving up meat from un-stunned animals. In Manchester, 85% of all meat served is unlabeled halal meat, while none of the halal chicken served at Sheffield and Exeter is marked as so.
Now – according to student newspaper The Tab - nearly half of the universities that responded to the request are serving Halal meat without making students aware.
At Kent University, 70 per cent of the meat served is unlabelled Halal while at Sheffield and Exeter, all the chicken is served Halal-style, but is not labelled as so. Cardiff and Lincoln were also found to be among the universities serving significant quantities of the meat, without telling consumers.
Of the 35 Oxbridge colleges that responded to the Freedom of Information Act request, only two did not serve any Halal meat, according to the paper.
And when the suppliers were contacted to see if they supplied stunned or unstunned meat, many suppliers did not know. A spokesman for meat supplier 3663, which serves Kent and Northumbria, said: ‘Currently, we do not collect information on the method of slaughter.’
The RSPCA condemned this method of non-stunned slaughter and the unethical practice of non-labelling being carried out at several UK universities. A spokesperson said: ‘Scientific research has clearly shown that slaughter of an animal without stunning can cause unnecessary suffering, and so we are opposed to the slaughter of any animal without first making it insensible to pain and distress.’
‘Our concern has nothing to do with the expression of religious belief but with the practice of killing by throat cutting without pre-stunning. Universities should only be serving meat that is stunned prior to slaughter. ‘We are calling for labelling to refer to stun or non-stun slaughter rather than a method of ‘religious’ slaughter.’
This call for change in current legislation is being championed by the British Veterinary Association. President Robin Hargreaves said: ‘British Veterinary Association is campaigning for an end to the practice of non-stun slaughter which compromises animal welfare at the time of death.
‘We would like to see all universities taking a proactive approach on animal welfare and only sourcing their meat from abattoirs that pre-stun before slaughter.’
Alex McGhee, President of the Association of Veterinary Students, said: ‘The fact that students are consuming non-stun meat without their knowledge is appalling. ‘While non-stun slaughter continues it is absolutely imperative for students to be able to make choices based on both religious and animal welfare grounds.’
A spokesman for Northumbria University said: ‘We work closely with all of our suppliers to source high-quality ingredients to serve our customers. There is no legal requirement for Halal meat to be labelled. However, two of our suppliers – Ginsters and Urban Eat – label all products where they contain Halal meat ingredients.’We continue to work with our suppliers to make all labelling as clear and informative as possible for our customers.’