London

Harrow primary schools offer 'halal-only' meat option

A north London council is offering its primary schools the chance to serve only halal meat on its menus.

Nine Harrow secondary schools already provide pupils with meat prepared according to Islamic law in a scheme that has been running for two years.

Harrow Council said it had received "no complaints" about serving halal-only meat, with vegetarian and fish options.

Now 52 primary schools in the area will have the option of taking part in the same programme.

Harrow councillor Brian Gate said it would be the choice of individual schools as to whether or not they chose to use catering firm Harrison Catering Services, which serves halal-only meat.

"The decision about whether to use an individual provider is for schools to make, as the funding is delegated to them," Councillor Gate said.

Halal is meat from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with Sharia law.

Idea welcomed

Masood Khawaja, president of the Halal Food Authority (HFA), said he welcomed the move but stressed that pupils should not be forced to eat halal meat.

"It's commendable for any local authority to introduce halal meals for Muslim students and pupils, but we also say that it should be properly labelled," he said.

"Non-Muslims should have a choice as well."

The Muslim Council of Britain said parents who wanted their children to eat halal meat "should be given the freedom and choice to do so".

"Local authorities are under a duty to facilitate this," a spokesman said.

"Those who do not wish to consume halal should similarly be afforded the freedom and choice."

A council spokeswoman said two primary schools had already decided to go with the Harrison Catering Services contract and give halal-only meat to their pupils.

In a statement, Harrison Catering Services said it could not comment on individual contracts.

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