I recently received the following in my mailbox. It is a report on Freeman’s of Newent who supply Nando’s as well as a lot of other halal meat shops and restaurants around the UK. They are the biggest supplier of halal poultry in the UK.
Over the years numerous scare stories come out about Nando’s (and by extension Freeman’s) as not being halal, most of these “reports” present hearsay and conjecture and very little substantial or verified evidence to prove their point. I recently received one such email from a councillor in Blackburn by the name of Salim Mulla, the email was a long rant against Nando’s and about chicken brains exploding, pig being handled on the same premises and non-Muslims handling the chickens. He also stated that he visited Freeman’s with 4 unnamed ulama and witnessed all this, he gave no date, no time, who he met, where he actually went and who these Ulama were.
This is the crux of the email from Cllr. Salim Mulla
- Cutting is done with same machine blade / knife
- Meat / chicken cutting is done in pieces by English workers / same apron
- Cutting was done in the same preparation table.
- They were using the same non Halal container to load and unload the meat / Chickens, what about the mixing of blood.
- Cross contamination: Pigs were refrigerated in same area in the fridge
I responded in detail to the honourable Councillor and discussed at length his “finding” and specifically his approach to this which I think is very shoddy. Even after discussing with him I was still left unsatisfied by what he had to say as it just was not based on any solid evidence.
What follows is a proper report on Freeman’s of Newent, presented with clear concise details by someone who has personally visited the slaughter facilities. His name is Zubbair Malik, whilst I do not personally know him, I contacted him to verify this report and he said:
“by Allah this visit took place on the date stated in my report (Tue, 12th Feb 2008)”
The story Zubbair tells is very different from the exploding chicken brains one that does the rounds and Councillor Salim says he witnessed….
Wed 13 Feb 2008Asalam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatu
I pray that you are in good health and iman and I would like to report an investigation in stunned halal poultry I have personally carried out this week.
Who and where this report reaches, only Allah (swt) knows. I have emailed this to people in my contacts list and as they know I am not an abattoir owner, meat wholesaler or retailer I am just a fellow Muslim end consumer concerned about eating halal and in addition, to inform my brothers and sisters of my findings, and pray to Almighty Allah that in this there is inshAllah knowledge that will benefit us.
I will try to keep this as brief and to the point as possible?
Recently, there has been a lot of ?hype? with regards to stunned poultry being doubtful. I am sure you have seen the emails and read the leaflets and reports.
As any concerned Muslim, I read and adapted this policy of trying to eat meat which was unstunned. I recently found out that a wholesaler (Nasons in Luton) within my region was delivering stunned poultry to almost all of my local halal butchers, takeaways and surrounding towns. With this concern, I approached Nasons, questioning their halal meat, especially the poultry.
They were adamant that the meat they supplied was halal and very open with regards to who their suppliers were. They invited me and whoever I would like to bring with me to see for myself that his poultry is most definitely halal, and there is NO doubt in their chicken being dead before slaughter.
On Tue 12th Feb 2008 we visited FREEMAN’S OF NEWENT Slaughters approx up to 50,000 – 60,000 birds a day, and is one of the main suppliers of halal poultry to the UK
I was met on arrival by Ali Bham, Head Slaughtermen of Freeman’s. After being introduced to various members of Senior Staff at Freeman’s, Ali explained his job and what measurements and Islamic standards he implements in his work to ensure that all Freeman’s chickens are 100% halal. He has worked for Freeman’s for the past 24 years.
The process for slaughter is as follows:
All the chickens are hung upside down on a line, their heads are dipped for about 1- 2 seconds in a tub of water and they are stunned with a high frequency stunner, at a set voltage of 39 volts. This temporarily knocks the chickens out.
When the chickens had been stunned, we were encouraged by Ali to touch the birds and feel their heart beat. Numerous chickens were touched and all had a heart beat and felt warm.
- Some chickens were still moving/flapping wings after being stunned.
- We removed chickens at will after stunning from the line and placed them on the floor. All birds opened their eyes after 5-10 seconds. After 1 minute the birds were trying to get up. After 2 mins, birds absolutely normal and walking around.
- After being stunned, the birds are slaughtered within 10 – 15 seconds.
- Very sharp knifes are used, no distress for chickens and ?Bismillah, Allah o Akbar? read on every single bird by the slaughtermen. Who, of course, are all Muslims. There were 6 of them, interviewed one of them and he knew all the etiquettes of halal slaughter.
- After slaughter, ALL chickens were clearly bleeding (meaning still alive)
- Chickens flapping after slaughter. Once slaughtered the line takes the birds into another section of the factory. Just in the killing room, (where the slaughter takes place), the line was about 3 lines deep. Chickens as far along as the third line were still flapping after slaughter (i.e. up to 2mins after slaughter).
- Clearly all 4 veins in the neck were being cut.
- Very humane, very calm, very clean and hygienic.
This in short is how the slaughter process worked. Allah (swt) is my witness, but from what I saw I was extremely happy that the chickens are 100% halal. Ali informs me that several millions of pounds have been invested by Freeman’s in this factory set up and is focused on halal poultry only.
Above all, I was very pleased to hear that Mufti Yousif Sacha is the one who certifies Freeman’s as halal. Now he must be, if not the, senior mufti with regards to halal and haram in the UK. I was shown the certificate, signed by Mufti Sacha, last certified in Jan 08. Ali informs me he visits every 6 months to check and certify the Freeman’s slaughter process.
Brothers and sisters, I would be under miming Brother Ali?s work at Freeman’s if I did not inform you of his hard work. Only Allah knows what is in people?s hearts, but MashAllah, this brother is doing his up most best to ensure that every single chicken that leaves Freeman’s is halal. And I have to respect him for it. I make dua that Allah (swt) accepts his efforts and rewards him in this world and the next.
I also visited IQBAL HALAL POULTRY, Bell Farm, Bovingdon, Herts prior to visiting Freeman’s. They slaughter 40,000 chickens a week and use a similar method to Freeman’s. Again, the same tests were carried out after stunning and all the chickens regained their senses and back to normal within a couple of minutes. They have 4 slaughtermen, I interviewed their Head Slaughterman, and his reply to the nearest meaning, because he spoke Urdu, was; Allah is our witness, why would we lie about halal for a small worldly gain, when tomorrow we will have to give our account to the Almighty on the Day of Judgement.
To summarise, we should investigate into things we are unsure about and not just take other peoples word for it. I was told about the stunning process being doubtful by a ?reliable source?. And through a little investigation he has turned out to be not so reliable at all.
I can only speak for the two I visited, and in my humble opinion, these suppliers are halal. I encourage brothers to do their own investigation to eliminate any doubts in their minds. Alhumdulillah, these suppliers were very open in what they do and the process they follow. InshAllah, abattoirs near you are just as open.
St Albans, Herts