PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of different understandings regarding the concept of “what constitutes halal” and “who determines this concept?” In practice, this equates to contemporary legal understandings vs religious understandings. The paper further aims to provide an overview of competing Muslim understandings regarding the concept of “What does or does not constitute halal slaughter?” In practice, this equates to evaluating the application of no stunning at all upon an animal (unanimous acceptance) vs the application of reversible stunning upon an animal (contested).Design/methodology/approachThe study includes a review of prior literature and considers the current scenario of the halal poultry trade and raises important questions regarding Islamic dietary practices, halal food integrity, religious and animal welfare understandings. Three key questions were raised: “To what extent does stunning impact halal slaughter?”; “Who determines what is halal slaughter?”; and “What are the variations and tensions between legal and religious understandings of halal slaughter?”.FindingsThe examination of such requirements and concomitant consumer and provider expectations is underpinned by a study of an operational framework, i.e. industry practices with poultry (hand slaughter, stunning, mechanical slaughter, etc.), ethical values and market forces to appraise whether there is a point of convergence for these that can be beneficial for both seller and consumer concerns. This paper has considered different perspectives on the religious slaughter and provided an overview of competing understandings regarding the above concepts.Originality/valueThis study although academic and philosophical in nature, raises questions on route to suggesting future research directions. It provides real value in stimulating more research in the area of halal food production and contributes to the understanding of different slaughter requirements for religious slaughter and the meat industry. It further sheds light on not only the religious and secular legal frameworks on animal slaughter and welfare but also the variations in understanding between them and provides examples of attempts to bridge any gap. The paper highlights the importance of halal food based on religious values and its implications for wider society.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 5, 2018
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