Is There Non-Stunned Meat in Your UK Raw Dog Food?!

The UK Halal Sector and its Implications for Your raw dog Food of Choice…

As my recent articles on Halal / kosher meat production in Ireland have indicated, non-stunned meat is not required to be labelled as such for the normal, non-halal market, thus we don’t know if we have been eating or feeding to our dogs non-stunned meat. This is an issue for me and response to the articles prove it’s most certainly an issue with many of you.

Just to verfiy I asked our Department of Agriculture the following questions to which they kindly replied:

HOW MANY HALAL / KOSHER MEAT PRODUCERS ARE THERE IN IRELAND TODAY?
DOA: Currently 8 slaughter plants have received approval to slaughter animals in a Halal/Shechita method.

WHAT IS THIS SECTOR WORTH TO THE IRISH ECONOMY?
DOA: As the value of Halal production in Ireland is not separately calculated this is not known.

ARE THESE PRODUCERS REQUIRED BY LAW TO STATE “HALAL” ON PRODUCTS SOLD TO THE IRISH MARKET? ARE THERE ANY PROTECTIONS IN PLACES THAT PROTECT ME THE CONSUMER FROM BUYING SUCH A PRODUCT?
DOA: There is currently no legal requirement to state “Halal” on the label for any market, unless the customer requires it.

The UK is the Biggest Producer of Halal Meat in Europe…

For those of you who have been contacting me from the UK, the UK is the biggest producer of Halal meat in Europe. It is also the biggest producer of raw dog food in Europe. In the UK, non-halal meat is not required to be labelled as such either, so you guys undoubtedly have the very same problem.

The question logically follows, how do you find out if your raw dog food of choice contains non-stunned meat? Well, one obvious way would be to phone the producer themselves. On the level of evidence or proof, this would be considered the weakest, most useless kind. We know this from the carryings-on in the dry food sector. It’s why lawyers don’t spend long asking producers did they do it, they try and find out for themselves. But here’s some ideas in that respect:

  1. Never phone, email, get their answer in writing.
  2. Ask who supplies them their meat. While they’re not obliged to tell you what bits and pieces they use in their products it should be no secret who supplies their meats as a whole. Good producers are proud to tell you, others may be less so.
  3. Next, do a little digging on these suppliers. First to Google. Does this supplier handle non-stunned meat? If no, great! Though maybe email them to check just in case.
  4. If they do, ring the meat supplier (don’t email in this situation) and talk to a rep. Pose as a new raw dog food producer saying you will in the future be purchasing tonnes of wings and thighs and carcass. Say you need it strictly NON-HALAL, is this possible? In other words, do they separate Halal from non-halal on their disassembly lines? It would be unusual if they did.

Why are They Using Non-stunned Meat in my Raw Dog Food?

The growth of the Halal meat sector in Ireland and, as you will find out, the UK is because some religious factions do not eat the hindquarters of the beast, it is considered unclean. It happens that the hind quarters is where we consider the best meat to be (all types of steaks, and roasting pieces). We tend to shun the front end bits (neck, chuck etc) which are favoured by these factions. Thus, historically in this country, the front end of the beast is worth significantly less than the hind quarters. Moving to non-stun means Irish producers can now double cash in on the beast. The front quarters are worth more to them, the hind quarters a worth a lot to the traditional Irish / UK / US market. Purely money.

The reason it’s included in your raw dog food of choice is two fold. One, these massive meat suppliers are not required to separate non-halal wings from Halal-wings if selling to say a raw dog food producer and these producers do not do anything that a) adds labour / cost or b) they are not required to do. So it all goes in one big drum. Secondly, as they are making so much from the beast generally these suppliers can sell their by-products (wings, necks, thigh, carcass, the foundation of raw dog food production) a lot cheaper than meat suppliers than do not use Halal / kosher killing, hence raw dog food producers may be tempted to use them more.

What About my Meat Supplier?

I know how the meat industry works and I most certainly know how the raw dog food industry works. I produced the stuff, so I’ve been on both sides. This is why I do not buy raw dog food. I buy my meat from butchers. I have my local butchers Farrellys who are up the road and kill their own animals. I am now moving soon to organic meat from the guys in Wicklow. I use the reduced aisles in Teso and Supervalu and I buy minces with bone in it online from the Kellys at www.carnviorekellys.ie. I contacted the Kelly brothers out of interest. They gave me their suppliers. I did a little digging and none handle Halal meat. This put my mind at ease, though I did find that their 5kg tubs of chicken breasts are Halal (something I don’t buy anyway, a chicken thigh being better than a chicken breast nutritionally for a dog, more lovely fat, cartilage and bone with great meat content, and cheaper…!).

Dr. Conor Brady

After a doctorate studying the effects of nutrition on the behaviour and gut morphology of animals, five years with Guide Dogs as a trainer and supervisor, some success on Dragons Den with the finest raw dog food company and the last few years both writing and speaking on canine nutrition and health, I can say with some confidence that the pet food and drug industry cares not a jot for the health of your pet.
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