Primary schools mull ‘halal-only’ lunches

By Ian Dunt

Primary schools in Harrow are considering whether to accept ‘halal-only’ meals on offer from the council’s favoured contractor, in a move which could enrage animal welfare groups.

The council, which has faced anger from residents over an existing arrangement which sees secondary schools in the borough receive only halal meat, is currently waiting to see how primaries react to the proposal.

The halal slaughter of animals, which does not stun it beforehand, is considered cruel by animal rights campaigners.

Religious ritual slaughter is exempt from animal welfare laws, however, and many Brits eat halal meat on a regular basis when they go for curry or a kebab.

Harrow council opted to go with private sector caterers Harrison’s two years ago despite a halal-only arrangement in operation.

All secondary schools are now served by the company, although fish and vegetarian options are always available.

A hub kitchen providing school meals to primaries has reopened the issue, however.

Primary schools are considering whether to enter into a contract with the caterer, although Harrow council insisted to that the expansion was not being delayed due to parent anger.

Councillor Brian Gate, portfolio holder for schools and colleges, said: “We consulted with primary schools about the provision of hot meals to their schools but the decision about whether to use an individual provider is for schools to make, as the funding is delegated to them.

“At present we are not proceeding to roll this programme out more widely but this is because of the cost constraints and the level of interest from parents. We will be reviewing the position with schools in the autumn.”

Some sources believe the current situation is simply common sense.

Chief coordinator of the Harrow Pakistani Society, Mohammad Rizvi, told the Harrow Observer: “For Muslim children the only option they have is to eat is Halal, it is part of their religion. Whereas it isn’t a problem for children of other faiths to eat Halal.

“This isn’t about Islamification or pandering to Muslim’s it’s just common sense.

“If you go into any restaurant you will find that a lot of the meat is Halal anyway, it doesn’t taste any different or better it is just part of our religion.”