Lancashire Council has become the first in the UK to ban unstunned halal meat in school dinners following a row between the council leader Geoff Driver and the local Muslim community.
This means that thousands of Lancashire schoolchildren will no longer be served un-stunned halal meat for school meals after it was banned – a move branded “unnecessary and divisive” by Muslim leaders.
For the time being the ban will not affect chicken meat but the council said further investigation will be carried out into the stunning of poultry before slaughter.
Councillor Azhar Ali had called for the halal meat debate to be suspended to allow the council to discuss the plans with Jewish and Muslim groups, but the amendment was rejected.
Mr Driver said he thought three councillors who had previously looked at this issue were influenced by their faith, to which Muslim councillor Mohammed Iqbal responded that the comments made him “very unhappy”.
Mr Iqbal added the comments caused “offence to him and his faith”, prompting Mr Driver to apologise, saying he didn’t intend to cause offence.
The move has been unpopular with some Muslims and Abdul Qureshi, the acting chief executive of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, called on children to boycott their school lunches if the vote went against him.
He told the Telegraph the RSPCA’s guidance “is most of the time based on feelings, it’s not scientifically conclusive”.
An RSPCA spokesman responded: “I utterly, completely refuse to cede that’s where our views come from. Ourselves, the British Veterinary Association and the Humane Slaughter Association signed a joint statement saying the only humane way to kill an animal is to stun it.
“We, for animal welfare reasons, would be quite happy if unstunned meat was banned across the UK.”