Halal meat is off the school menu

Concern: Salim Mulla
Concern: Salim Mulla
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Thousands of Muslim children have been left without any meat in their school meals after Lancashire County Council cancelled its contract with a Halal food supplier.

It is not known why KQF has lost its deal, which started in May 2009 and was renewed in April this year.

The decision was made after an unexpected county council food standards department inspection into the composition, labelling and quality of the meat at the company’s base in George West Street, Blackburn, on October 9.

A Lancashire County Council spokesman said a total of 68 primary and secondary schools in the region were affected by the move, including 14 in Preston, one in South Ribble and four in Chorley.

She said she could not disclose the reason for the decision but said it did not relate to the meat’s Halal accreditation.

In the meantime, Muslim children are being offered suitable non-meat and vegetarian alternatives.

The spokesman added the county council was now hoping to get an interim supplier in place.

Halal is the description of food and drink Muslims are allowed to consume under Islamic dietary laws, as defined in the Koran.

Classifying of halal food, including meat which must be slaughtered in a certain way, can only be carried out by a Muslim expert in the laws.

KQF’s boss Faruk Valli was unavailable for comment as he was on a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

A representative of the company, which employs 30 staff, said it did not know why its contract had been terminated and suggested it was related to a paperwork issue.

Salim Mulla, Lancashire Council of Mosques chairman, said youngsters’ diets could suffer because of the move.

He said: “We had a good set up we thought with KQF and we did a lot of background work with the county council.

“Everything was going very smoothly and then suddenly we got a notice saying they have got some discrepancy.

“We don’t know exactly what it entails, I think it’s something to do with the paperwork.

“How can it be to do with hygiene, when Blackburn with Darwen Council have inspected it twice and it has passed?

“It was deemed fit for purpose.

“Obviously it’s not an ideal situation as far as children across Lancashire are concerned because Halal meat is essential to their dietary requirements.

“We just hope everything can be sorted out. We are liaising with Lancashire County Council and hopefully we will resolve things quickly.”