British halal sheepmeat could carry a new supply chain quality assurance mark under AHDB plans to support this increasingly important sector for lamb producers.
In 2011 the 4.6% of the UK population who identified as Muslim accounted for 24% of lamb and 16% of domestic mutton consumption, with AHDB predicting this to have increased in the years since.
Two marks will be used to denote meat which has been reversibly stunned, and meat which has been slaughtered according to religious tradition without stunning, although stunning will not be mentioned in the branding.
Recoverable stunning is done by an electrical stun to the head of the animal and does not kill it.
Products which have been reversible stunned would also be able to qualify for one of the farm assurance marks such as Red Tractor if they were produced on an approved farm, although this will not be mandatory at the mark’s launch.
AHDB said it will develop a best practice guide for traditional slaughter detailing the correct process to minimise welfare compromise.
A third method of slaughter will also be accepted under the scheme in cases where animals are stunned after slaughter because they have remained conscious for a prolonged period of time. These will be labelled as stunned halal.
AHDB said that for abattoirs to qualify for the new mark they must be accredited by one of the site assurance schemes, which cover standards of welfare, storage, hygiene and food safety, labelling and traceability.
Each site would also need a written halal policy specifying how much of production was intended to be halal-compliant, production controls, and how non-compliant products will be segregated.
Abattoirs will also be required to have a halal compliance officer or management team to operate the policy.
AHDB is also proposing strict rules on pork as part of the scheme, preventing abattoirs from slaughtering pork and to ensure that pork and halal meat are kept physically separate during storage and transport.
To enable export in the future, the marks could be linked to Country of Origin regulations.
AHDB is consulting on its plans until 30 August.