Religious leaders recently called for clearer labelling. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
According to a BBC report MPs have rejected plans to make food outlets label meat from animals killed in accordance with religious practices, such as halal or kosher: "Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons and the Co-op said their New Zealand lamb was halal, while Pizza Express had already revealed its chicken is killed according to Islamic tradition."
The consumer affairs minister Jenny Willott said the government "did not think regulation was the best approach". Why? Five leading supermarkets are saying that some of the meat they sell "could qualify as halal but is not labelled as such". The supermarkets said the animals were stunned before being killed and "the only difference" from standard meat was that they were blessed as they are killed. But for many that is precisely the point.
Conservative Philip Davies, who proposed the Commons debate, said there was a "huge public demand" to know more about where food came from. Referring to a Daily Mail article he quoted Taj Hargey, director of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford, who said halal meat was "covert religious extremism and creeping Islamic fundamentalism making its way into Britain by the backdoor".
An Office for National Statistics survey of 450,000 Britons in 2010 found that 71% are Christian, 4% are Muslim and 21% have no religious affiliation so why is the tail wagging the dog?
One has to question the motives of HM Government when the dietary requirements of 4% of the population are given precedence over the vast majority of people in this country. For the government Ms Willott said: "We want people to have the information they need to make informed choices about the food they buy. Many retailers or restaurants and fast food outlets already voluntarily provide information on whether meat is halal or kosher". Good for them but that is not the problem. It is the covert actions of the major players that are of concern.
Those of us who have been disillusioned by voluntary agreements will be wondering as elections approach if the motive behind the Government's response is gaining minority votes. If so they have learned nothing from the gay marriage debacle which saw party membership plummet.