Concern over NZ halal lamb

Last updated 15:27 26/09/2010
Lambing
HALAL HICCUP: Meat exporters are concerned about the reputation New Zealand lamb has in Britain, with people saying they will not buy it because it is halal.

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The organisation representing the country's meat exporters is concerned about the reputation New Zealand lamb has in Britain, with people saying they will not buy it because it is halal. 

An article in the Daily Mail pointed out that 70 percent of New Zealand lamb exports to Britain were halal, but this was not stated on the label. 

Some British restaurant chains were also serving up halal meat without telling customers, it says. 

The article received more than 150 comments, some from people who said they would no longer buy New Zealand lamb because of the halal method of killing animals.

``I have always respected New Zealanders, and very much enjoyed their lamb. But they have managed to keep this very quiet, seemingly for a long time. Devious,'' wrote Em of Wiltshire.

Elizabeth of Cleveleys said she would not buy New Zealand lamb until it was labelled, and that the meat industry needed to sit up and take notice.

New Zealand's certified halal slaughter is government regulated and complies with animal welfare requirements.

Meat Industry Association of New Zealand trade and economic manager Dan Coup said New Zealand had very high standards of animal welfare, which were at least as stringent as those in Britain. 

``We are concerned about the current issue, but we don't believe that our UK consumers have any animal welfare issues to worry about,'' he said.

It was ultimately the responsibility of British retailers whether meat was labelled as halal, and New Zealand exporters could label it as such if requested. 

Mr Coup was unsure about whether the industry had been damaged by the article.

Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permissible.

Halal meat must come from animals blessed by a short prayer and slaughtered facing the holy city of Mecca. The  traditional method is to kill the animal with a cut to the throat to allow the blood to drain out.

New Zealand meat exporters started slaughtering animals according to halal guidelines so meat could be sold in Muslim countries.

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