Pizza Express reveal ALL the chicken they use is halal - but they don't tell customers unless they ask staff
- All chicken used in chain's food is prepared according to Islamic traditions
- No mention of issue on menu and only appears in small print on website
- Critics have accused the 434-restaurant chain of 'duping' its customers
- Or is move because 'non-Islamic customers are less likely to complain'?
- Firm insists birds are stunned before slaughter and food meets standards
Pizza Express is serving halal chicken to its unwitting customers on the quiet, with staff only telling customers about the meat if asked.
Only meat from birds that have had their throats slit while still alive, in accordance with Islamic traditions, is used in dishes.
The menu makes no mention of the issue and customers can find out only by checking the small print on the Pizza Express website – or by asking staff explicitly.
The firm, which has 434 restaurants across the UK, states on its website: ‘All our chicken is halal approved but it is important to note that all birds are stunned before being slaughtered.
‘Our chicken supplier is accredited by the British Retail Consortium. This means it meets the global standard for food safety and legality.’
A spokesman said: ‘Our chicken is halal approved. We serve halal chicken in all of our UK restaurants. Pizza Express is committed to animal welfare standards.
‘As such birds are stunned before being slaughtered. We are very happy to provide this information to our guests.
‘We spend a lot of time listening to our guests and do our best to cater to their needs. Whether this means creating vegan-friendly pizzas or serving halal chicken, we take their feedback seriously.’
The revelation has angered campaigners. Stephen Evans, of the National Secular Society, told The Sun: ‘Unsuspecting members of the public are routinely being duped into buying meat from religious slaughter methods.
‘Meat should be properly labelled, enabling consumers to make an informed choice about the food they’re buying.’
The halal meat market in the UK is worth around £2.6billion a year – and it is expected to soar.
'Keeping halal and non-halal meat is expensive and creates the risk of non-halal being fed to Muslims, which shops and restaurants know will cause uproar. Maybe they think non-Muslims are less likely to complain' Richard North, meat inspector
Meat inspector Richard North said chains such as Pizza Express served halal chicken to save money.
He added: ‘Keeping halal and non-halal meat is expensive and creates the risk of non-halal being fed to Muslims, which shops and restaurants know will cause uproar. Maybe they think non-Muslims are less likely to complain.’
Last week it was revealed that Subway has removed ham and bacon from almost 200 fast food outlets and switched to halal meat alternatives in an attempt to please its Muslim customers.
Turkey ‘ham’ and turkey rashers will be used instead in 185 of its stores, where all the meat will now be prepared according to halal rules.
The chain, which has around 1,500 outlets across the UK, explained its decision by saying it had to balance animal welfare concerns with ‘the views of religious communities’.
Traditional halal slaughter has animals having their throats slit before bleeding to death.
In Arabic the word halal means ‘permitted’ or ‘lawful’ and defines anything that is allowed or lawful according to the Koran.
It is often used to indicate food – particularly meat – that has been prepared in accordance with Muslim principles and techniques.
In Britain, killing an animal without prior stunning is illegal, but the law gives special exemption to Muslim and Jewish meat producers on the grounds of religion.
In the UK there are thought to be around 12 abattoirs dedicated to unstunned slaughter, while hundreds practise stunned halal slaughter.
Muslims are forbidden from eating any non-halal food and meat from pigs and Subway said customers can identify those stores selling halal food by the special ‘All meats are Halal’ sign, which must be displayed in participating branches.
A People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesman told MailOnline: ‘Peta fights to help all animals who are slaughtered for their flesh, and we do not particularly differentiate between killing methods in our vegan campaigns.
‘However, as long as animals are still killed for food, banning the most inhumane slaughter methods – in which cows and other animals have their throats cut while they're still conscious – is a step in the right direction.’
But he added: ‘No religion needs to slaughter animals for food, so the kindest thing that we can do for all animals is to leave them off our plates by adopting a vegan diet.’
HALAL DICTATES OBJECTS OR ACTIONS PERMISSIBLE UNDER ISLAMIC LAW
Halal refers to any object or action which is 'permissible' according to Islamic law. The term covers not only food and drink but also matters of daily life.
Halal foods are those that Muslims are allowed to eat or drink under Islamic Shari'ah. The criteria dictates both food which are allowed and how the food must be prepared. The foods most commonly addressed are types of meat and animal tissue.
The most common example of non-halal, or forbidden food is pork. It is the only meat that must not be eaten by Muslims at all, due to historical, cultural and religiously perceived hygienic concerns.
Other meats can be forbidden, depending on their source, the cause of the animal's death and how it was processed. To be halal, the food must have come from a supplier that uses halal practises.
Specifically the slaughter must be performed by a Muslim, who must invoke the name of Allah prior to killing the animal. Commonly a person will say 'Bismillah' ('In the name of God') before repeating 'Allahu akbar' ('God is the greatest') three times.
The animal is then slaughtered with a sharp knife, by cutting the throat, windpipe and blood vessels in the neck without cutting the spinal cord. The blood must then be drained from its veins.
Traditionally and according to Islamic scholars, an animal must be conscious while slaughtered. However the majority of halal abattoirs stun the animals before killing them.
Muslims must also ensure that all foods, particularly processed foods, as well as non-food items like cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, are halal. The opposite of halal is 'haraam', meaning forbidden.
WHAT ABOUT THE MEAT YOU EAT AT OTHER RESTAURANTS IN BRITAIN?
Nando's serves Halal chicken at 64 restaurants in Britain - which is around a fifth of its outlets.
It says Halal chicken is served ‘in restaurants where local demand for that particular product is high, combined with various other business factors’.
Nando’s Halal chickens are supplied by Freemans of Newent in Gloucestershire, with all of the animals indoor-reared and given a high frequency low voltage stun. This means that when chicken is hand slaughtered and blessed, it is still alive but unconscious.
Restaurants serving Halal chicken are marked with a sign on the entrance of the restaurant and on its website.
Some 96 of Kentucky Fried Chicken's UK stores are running a trial with halal chicken - accounting for around an eighth of the total.
The chain says its suppliers use a pain-free technique called 'stun-to-stun' before slaughter, which means the animal cannot feel pain.
All non-halal products have been removed from the halal trial stores - including pork and bacon.
Last week it was revealed that Subway had removed ham and bacon from almost 200 outlets, and switched to halal meat alternatives.
It has confirmed turkey ham and turkey rashers will be used instead in 185 of its stores, where all the meat will now be prepared according to halal rules.
The chain, which has around 1,500 outlets across the UK, said it had to balance animal welfare concerns with 'the views of religious communities'.
Burger King confirmed today that none of its meat is halal.
A spokesman told MailOnline: ‘The beef burgers served at the Burger King restaurants in the UK and Ireland are made of 100 per cent British and Irish beef, which is not slaughtered in a halal or kosher manner.’
The Mail on Sunday has previously revealed that halal meat from animals who had been stunned before slaughter was being sold in schools, hospitals, pubs and at famous sporting venues such as Ascot and Twickenham.
All the beef, chicken and lamb sold to fans at Wembley was secretly prepared in accordance with Islamic law, while Cheltenham College was one of several top public schools which also served halal chicken to pupils without informing them.
Source: Daily Mail