Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem
Allahumma salli alaa sayyidinaa Muhammadin wa baarik wa sallim
THE ISSUE OF STUNNING IN THE PROCESSING OF CHICKENS
The Shariah Council of the Majlis ul Ulamaa (Majlistt) is aware of the uncertainty in the national community regarding acceptance of the practice by some chicken processing facilities to use water-bath stunning before the chicken is slaughtered. Some scholars are of the opinion that the use of water-bath stunning is prohibited and renders the chicken Haraam (i.e. Unlawful for Muslim consumption). Others maintain the opposite position and regard the stunning process as not affecting the Halaal status (i.e. Lawful for Muslim consumption) of the final product.
QUALIFICATION OF SLAUGHTERED CHICKEN AS HALAAL
The Majlistt recognises that for slaughtered chickens to be considered Halaal, it has to meet some specific conditions, viz.:
- The chicken must be alive at the point of slaughter
- A Muslim must take the Name of Allah at the time when each chicken is being slaughtered.
- The People of the Book, (i.e. Ahlul Kitaab) must also take the Name of Allah at the time when each chicken is being slaughtered, and this is also lawful according to the Qur’an.
The Majlistt notes that Schools of Law vary on whether a slaughtered chicken is still Halaal if the believer in Allah forgets to take the name of Allah. Upon deliberations, it is agreed as follows:
- Muslim or one from Ahlul Kitab forgets to take the name of Allah, the chicken will still be considered Halaal.
- If however, Muslim or one from Ahlul Kitab deliberately avoids taking the name of Allah, that meat is not considered Halaal, and it should not be eaten.
- If a person does not believe in Allah, and slaughters the chicken, that chicken is haraam and cannot be eaten by any Muslim, even if they are desirous of taking the Name of Allah at the time of eating.
THE USE OF STUNNING IN THE PROCESS OF SLAUGHTERING:
The Majlistt recognises that stunning that is applied to various types of animals, takes various forms. In the case of chickens the Majlistt accept the use of water-bath stunning that is used in poultry processing. In this context, the Majlistt takes note of the following:
- The blood must flow out after slaughtering.
- The jugular veins, the oesophagus and trachea must be cut.
- Regarding the use of stunning, the investigations by scholars who currently sit on the Majlistt Shariah Council, combined with consideration of other studies done by Ulamaa of many reputable Muslim Organisations internationally, all reinforce the acceptability of water-bath stunning in the processing of chickens, with specific conditions.
The Majlistt endorses the practice of regular visits to the processing plants where stunning is being practised, by scholars, to ensure that the Islamic requirements are maintained at all times.
Persons may wish, out of their own volition, to abstain from certain foods; However, it should be clearly understood that this personal preference cannot be used as a basis to render meat Haram or even Makrooh.
The Majlistt notes as well that other scholars and individuals do not accept the use of water-bath stunning on the grounds that it represents cruel treatment, pain and undue suffering to the chicken prior to its being slaughtered. The Majlistt found, based on its research, that the use of stunning calms the bird in preparation for slaughter – which has resulted in low risk of damage to the chicken at the point of slaughtering and therefore is a humane process.
It is to be noted that in stunning of the different sizes of chickens, the voltage needs to be adjusted based on the size of the chicken. Tests were conducted within the voltage range – administered variably based on the size of the chicken – within which range chickens were able to recuperate. The current being administered must be properly regulated.
Based on observations, Majlistt recognises that if a chicken died before it was slaughtered; it did not bleed and therefore retained a red colour after plucking. Such chicken is considered to have died before the point of slaughter and is removed from the processing system and rendered as pet food. Such chicken is considered Haraam, and Majlistt is aware that the rejected chickens are not approved by the Health Authority for human consumption.
The Majlistt is aware that:
- Stunning does not cause damage to the birds other than a disorder of their nervous system.
- The stunning voltage is infinitely variable. Because of this, an optimum stunning effect can always be achieved, with varying capacities and under different circumstances.
Allah Knows Best
Department of Standards Malaysia, Malaysian Standard: MS1500:2004: Production, Preparation, Handling and Storage Guidelines, (Second Revision), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, 2009.
ASJA Halal Committee: Paper presented in 2007
Dr. Waffie Mohammed, Halal Chicken Brochure, Markaz al Ihsaan
World Health Organisation Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean, Islamic Ruling on Animal Slaughter, Report on a seminar and committees organised by the Muslim World League and the World Health Organisation, WHO Library Cataloguing, 1997
Halal Food Authority 2013: Internet: http: halalfoodauthority.com.
Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago Ltd., Stunning the Birds before Slaughter, accessed from http://www.darululoomtt.net/stunning-birds-slaughter/ 2014.
Insight on the go, download the PDF, Issue 1 – Use of Stunning 2016 Academia