A survey by Britain First (Dorset branch) this week revealed that around 40% of cafes, restaurants and takeaways in Poole town centre serve halal meat products, even though Muslims make up less than 2% of the local population.
It also found that none of these establishments flag halal dishes on their menus, and that at least one takeaway passes off halal food as non-halal!
The survey and its findings are described further down; but first, a bit about halal.
What Is Halal?
Enza Ferreri describes it thus:
The Muslim method to produce halal ('lawful' or 'permissible') meat consists of cutting fully conscious animals' throats while the name of Allah is uttered and letting them bleed to death. ... the animal is not stunned before being killed.
Government advisory bodies, like the Farm Animal Welfare Council and the British Veterinary Association in the UK, have produced reports and made declarations saying that ritual slaughter causes 'intolerable cruelty' and have repeatedly demanded that it be banned.
The Muslim Council of Britain claims that most halal meat comes from stunned animals, but in reality a very low voltage is used in their electrocution, resulting in inadequate stunning.
Many non-Muslims reject halal for religious reasons or animal welfare concerns.
On 16th and 18th October we visited every open cafe, restaurant and takeaway (not pubs or hotels) in Poole town centre (40 in total) and asked front of house staff the following question:
"Hello, we're doing a survey on food choices in Poole. Could you tell us if the meat you serve is halal, non-halal or both?"
If they answered "halal" or "both", we asked a follow-up question:
"Is it clearly indicated to customers which items are halal?"
Responses were noted, tabulated and analysed. (Table available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org.)
• All respondents knew about halal, indicating broad societal penetration of this Islamic concept.
• Four establishments out of 40 (10%) serve halal only, and (at least) a further 12 (30%) serve both halal and non-halal (e.g. Pizza Express: "Our chicken is halal but the kitchen is non-halal [certified].").
• Most of the Italian, Thai and Chinese restaurants/ take-aways use halal meat, even though those countries are non-Muslim.
• None of the 16 establishments flags halal on its signs or menus (even though vegetarian and vegan options are usually clearly indicated). The onus is always on customers to ask.
• Many front of house staff don't know or are unsure which (if any) dishes include halal. Several establishments didn't know or were unsure whether supplied meat was halal.
• One take-away admitted deliberately passing off halal food as non-halal: "They are English. If they ask, we say non-halal." It would be difficult to know if this practice is widespread, as probably few vendors would admit to it.
Britain First Dorset activists have written to Poole Council to urge introduction and enforcement of clear labelling of halal items in cafes, restaurants and takeaway establishments across the borough, so that consumers can make informed choices.
Also, we've sent a press release to local media, and plan to highlight this issue in future leafleting around East Dorset.
Why, in an overwhelmingly Christian town with a Muslim population under 2%, do at least 40% of cafes, restaurants and takeaways purvey meat from animals ritually sacrificed to Allah?
Because, suggests Enza Ferreri, Halal Meat Is the First Giant Step of Our Islamization.
In any case, it's evident that many people, including those of us who reject halal products for religious or animal welfare reasons, have been consuming them unawares. It's time to assert our right to make informed choices, just as vegetarians or vegans do.
In the meantime, we suggest you:
• visit only non-halal outlets such as Greggs or (UK) McDonalds (and be aware that some restaurant chains such as Subway, KFC and Nandos have both halal and non-halal branches)
• ask the manager or chef, if unsure
• alternatively, stick to pork products, because pork is haram ('unlawful'). Better still, go veggie!
Britain First Dorset
Britain First Dorset is holding its next meeting in early November, and welcomes new members and those curious to know more.
East Dorset Branch Organiser: William Kimmet
West Dorset Branch Organiser: George Whale
You can email both at email@example.com.