The ‘Halal Meat Controversy’: Animal Welfare Concerns or a Sign of the Times?

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 16:45
Oral Presentation
John LEVER, Department of Management, University of Huddersfield Business School, United Kingdom
As the UK Muslim population expanded in the decade to 2011 the availability of halal meat in shops, restaurants and public institutions became a reoccurring feature of public debate and political controversy. Muslims as well as Jews are exempt from the legal requirement to stun animals prior to slaughter and it is thus widely assumed that all halal meat in the UK is produced without stunning animals, when over 80% comes from pre-stunned animals (FSA 2011). In this paper I compare the ‘halal meat controversy’ with developments that occurred as the Jewish population expanded in the late nineteenth century. Anxieties about animal welfare, immigration and the increasing presence of minorities are consistent across both historical periods and I explore the extent to which these issues are connected to wider processes of socioeconomic change. Drawing on the work of Elias (2012) and Warde (2016), I argue that when animal slaughter occasionally comes into view the food practices of outsiders are shown to be more barbaric than hegemonic preferences, thus legitimizing the established order and warding off perceived threats to national values and identity.