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Kids keeping 'halal' in school

Kids keeping 'halal' in school

Categories: Latest News

Friday February 13 2015

The Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and The Times all report on a decision by a north London council to avoid pork products being served in primary schools in the area because the difficulties of managing dietary habits of non-pork eating pupils is too onerous to be managed as local budgets are depressed.

Islington Council has arranged for catering contracts serving the 46 primary schools in the Borough to omit pork based products because young children may not always be aware of what products to avoid and staff supervising dietary habits is burdensome.

A council spokesperson explained: “Children, some as young as four, of different religious and ethnic backgrounds may not know which foods contain pork, or may not realise the importance of avoiding it.

“Monitoring each child, every day, ensuring they are avoiding pork, is an unnecessary cost at a time of tight budgets.”

The Daily Mail erroneously claims the local council has “banned” pork from schools. The Daily Telegraph and Times note that the schools have removed pork from the menu although this too is not entirely accurate because secondary schools in the borough are not affected by the council’s decision.

All the newspapers quote Dr Zoe Davies, chief executive of the National Pig Association, who made clear mention of Muslim schoolchildren in her remarks about local authorities intervening in school catering matters. She said, “This is something we are particularly concerned about. It’s something we have heard of but we wouldn’t say it’s common. It tends to happen in areas where there are large numbers of children from, for example, a Muslim background who wouldn’t eat pork, but we would like there to be a choice.”

Yesterday the newspapers covered the launch of the MCB report, British Muslims in Numbers, mentioning among other facts the detail that “one in 12 school pupils [are] now brought up in [the] Islamic faith”. While the debate about integration refers copiously to “British values” it is useful to reflect that “mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs” is among the values used to define “British values”. And if this were not enough to justify why council’s may act to help young children observe their dietary laws, the overriding reason of cost reminds us that in the end these are largely business decisions.


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