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Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Farmers urged to go halal
Sheep identified for slaughter
Animals are slaughtered according to Muslim tradition
British farmers are being urged to consider diversifying into the thriving halal meat sector.

Research from the Meat and Livestock Commission has suggested there is a growing and as yet unfulfilled demand for halal meat - meat which has been ritually slaughtered according to Muslim tradition.

The figures suggest that more than half of school caterers have requirements for halal meat, and hospitals are struggling to meet the demand.

What is halal?
'Halal' means permitted or lawful
The meat must be ritually slaughtered according to Muslim tradition

The research was ordered eighteen months ago, following the commission's publication of a booklet which aimed to provide information and recipes for non-Muslims who had to prepare halal meat.

It was deluged with thousands of requests, particularly from staff in the public sector.

Under the NHS Food Programme, for example, hospitals are required to provide meals that meet patients' religious dietary requirements.

One NHS Trust now employs two full-time halal chefs.

A spokesman for the Commission said halal meat production could be an ideal opportunity for farmers wishing to diversify into one of the few growing sectors of the agricultural economy.

Although Muslim families represent just 5% of the population, they consume an estimated 20% of all British lamb and mutton.

Global trade in halal products is estimated to be worth more than 30bn annually.

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24 Dec 01 | England
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