The Institute of Islamic Jurisprudence UK have certified Freeman’s as Halaal after much painstaking research and an unannounced visit to the plant. They are satisfied with the level of their standards to provide Halaal. The Scholars have made sure that there is a strict demarcation between the Haraam and Halaal meats in Freeman’ so that contamination is not possible. They do stun but at a low voltage (which means that the chicken is not killed in the process) hence Halaal. A scholar on the board told me that after the stunning, they picked up some chickens and they were far from dead just slightly groggy.
Read the rest of the article at the Gloucester Muslim Welfare Association’s Food Guide website.
Every few months an email circulates about Freeman’s halal chicken and it is usually a scare story which mentions Nando’s as not being halal because of the stunning that Freeman’s of Newent do (no mention of the hundreds of other Muslim owned outlets that serve Freeman’s halal chicken!). I had forwarded the latest Nando’s halal-scare email to Freeman’s to get to the bottom of the story.
I have just spoken directly (by ‘phone) to Ali Bham the head slaughterman of Freeman’s of Newent.
Ali Bham is a Gujerati Indian Muslim who has been slaughtering for Freeman’s for the last 23 years. He tells me that Freeman’s uses low voltage, high frequency stunning prior to slaughter, each bird receives a 4.2 volt shock and then hand slaughtered. This system, he says, was specifically designed and developed for the halal market. The equipment is regularly tested to ensure that it does not induce death prior to slaughter. He told me that when they apply this stun to a chicken, after a few minutes it gets up and walks away and he has never known a chicken to have died using this method.
The demand for halal chicken is about 50,000 birds a day and so in order to fulfil this demand they (and like many other poultry production units as well) have to utilise stunning. Now, my understanding of stunning is that in and of itself it doesn’t necessarily make the animal haram, it is if the animal has died prior to the slaughter that determines its status as halal or haram. Ali tells me that he can give a personal guarantee, as a Muslim that not a single bird dies before being slaughtered. He went onto say that should anyone wish to visit their facilities at any time they are free to do so. Ali also mentions that Mufti Yusuf Sacha of the Institute of Islamic Jurisprudence from Batley (in Yorkshire) visits their facilities and is 100% satisfied with their production output as being halal (my cousin Najam Sheikh also spoke with Mufti Yusuf directly to confirm). You can read a statement on The Gloucester Muslim Welfare Association website to that effect which I have reproduced below:
Last Updated: 03/02/2007 February 2007
Confirmed with Mufti Yusuf that the information herein is still correct.
April 2006 – We have confirmed with Mufti Yusuf that the information herein is still correct.
Assalamooalaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh
Respected Sister/Brother, We would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us all to serve His cause and render our work for His Sake. Hereunder is the response to your query subject to disclaimer:
At the outset we would like to point out that the Foodguide cannot advise you as to what method Freeman’s use for dhabah (Islaamic Slaughter) nor do we have the resources and manpower to follow through such queries (at present).
However, we are reliably informed that the Institute of Islamic Jurisprudence, Batley have concluded that the chicken slaughtering regime at Freeman’s is Halaal. We would also advise that there is a similar organisation based in Leicester which refuse to certify any slaughterhouses that stun and to this end have refused to certify Freeman’s. Notwithstanding, the Institute of Islamic Jurisprudence is headed by two reliable and reputable scholars viz: Mufti Yusuf Sacha and Mufti Faheem Mayaat.
The choice as they say, is yours.
Allah reward you for using the Foodguide Service. Allah give us tawfique to eat Halaal all the time. Please tell your friends and please pray for us too…. and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best
As with all things, if in doubt leave and as the Foodguide administrator says “the choice is yours”.