Food Blog

When is halal meat not halal meat? HMC vs HFA

By Nutritionist Golnar Khaleghi

Halal is an Arabic world meaning lawful or permitted. In reference to food it is food and drink Muslims are allowed to consume under Islamic dietary laws unless it is specifically prohibited by the Quran or the Hadith. 

The meat is traditionally prepared by slaughtering the animal with a quick cut to the throat with a sharp knife to allow all blood to drain out, the idea being that the meat is cleaner. The slaughter man is required to say the traditional proclamation of faith in one God as the animal is killed (In the name of Allah the greatest).

The rising issue now is whether meat can be halal if it has been slaughtered using mechanical methods as some Muslims say a mechanised form is also now acceptable. At present two separate organisations regulate the halal food industry in the UK although there are a lot of discussion, debates and arguments over which halal certification body is correctly following Shariah. 

Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC)

Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) takes the traditional stand on slaughtering animals and states that animals should be slaughtered by hand and using a machine is not halal and not permissible. It argues using machines contradicts a fundamental principle of halal - that the person who slaughters the animal is the same person who recites the name of Allah words over it.

The following describes some of the key criteria for Halal adopted by HMC:

  • Animal is alive and healthy prior to slaughter (also correct species of animal)
  • Mandatory recitation of Tasmiyah by a Muslim slaughter man (blessing) on each animal
  • Swift and humane incision rendering the the animal insensible to pain (hand slaughter)
  • Compliance check ensuring 3 of the 4 main vessels are cut 
  • In addition, all meat is labelled and sealed (where appropriate) and checks for cross contamination are made. HMC will not operate at plants where pork is handled.

The Halal Food Authority (HFA)

On the other hand, Some animals killed for halal meat in the UK are stunned electrically before their throats are slit, known as pre-stunned slaughter. The Halal Food Authority states that using machines is okay, as long as the meat is still blessed and that the animal is still alive prior to slaughter. They argue that although advances in technology mean methods have to change and a machine does the killing, the meat is still blessed by a Muslim slaughter man.

In relation to halal meat, stunning can present major problems that prevent the process of (halal slaughter). Currently, a large proportion of animals are killed by the stunning process, which makes the meat carrion and therefore haram. According to the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), 33% of stunned chicken is dead before it reaches the blade. This would enter the market labelled 'Halal.' Furthermore, stunning can also cause hemorrhaging and subsequent retention of blood that is required to flow away. Moreover, stunning causes massive changes in the chemical structure of the meat as the animal goes into stress and shock,  therefore releasing hormones into the muscle tissue. 

At Khuraaki we follow the traditional halal standards of slaughter of animal and all our meats are HMC certified.