Concerns mount over French halal meat procedures
By Laure Bretton
PARIS (Reuters) - The lack of a central body in France to oversee the authenticity of halal meat has made some experts doubt that animals have been slaughtered following the correct Islamic procedures.
Estimates of the amount of meat labeled halal that does not meet the strict religious standards range from 40 to as high as 80 percent.
France has Western Europe's biggest Muslim population and producers are battling for a piece of the 5.5 billion euro ($7.05 billion) halal meat market.
According to Islamic law, halal meat must come from animals blessed by a short prayer and slaughtered facing the holy city of Mecca. The animal is traditionally killed with a cut to the throat to allow the blood to drain out, with a view that the meat is cleaner.
Ala'a Gafouri of the Halal Institute of Food Management Industry (HIFMI) in Paris estimated that up to 80 percent of meat and other products labeled as halal may not meet these criteria.
"They're self-certified," Gafouri, who trains halal butchers and inspectors, said.
Kamel Kabtane, rector of the Grand Mosque of Lyon, estimates about 40-50 percent of halal products sold in France have not been rigorously verified.
Neither expert gave details of how their estimates were made. Continued...