CLACTON MP Giles Watling has called on County Hall bosses to ban halal meat from schools.

Mr Watling wants Essex County Council to ban religiously-slaughtered meat due to concerns over animal welfare.

The law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, which leaves them unable to feel pain during the process. But there is an exception for animals slaughtered for religious purposes.

Mr Watling said he believes slaughtering animals that are not pre-stunned is “barbaric” and causes the animals unnecessary pain.

He added: “I find the practise of not pre-stunning before slaughter abhorrent.

“Whilst I am a committed believer in the free market, should Essex County Council take the decision to ban meat that isn’t pre-stunned before slaughter, it would send a strong signal to the market and force organisations to take a stronger line with their own suppliers.”

Mr Watling has written to the county council’s chief executive Gavin Jones asking it to consider introducing a ban of halal meat being provided to schools, a decision recently taken by Lancashire County Council.

Mr Watling said he also wants to ensure that all meat sold to consumers is appropriately labelled to identify whether meat has been pre-stunned or not. “This is not just the responsibility of local authorities, we need to take steps in Westminster to address this issue,” he added.

“I shall be intervening in the House of Commons to make the case for correct labelling of these products as a positive aspect of the Brexit process.

“People have a right to know what they are buying and to choose to make informed decisions.

“The EU has not given us a positive legacy in this regard, and I see Brexit as a great opportunity to change this.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council said its relationship with schools is a partnership and the schools have autonomy over the food they serve.

He added: “We advise and support a number of schools through our school meals service but we are not in a position to instruct them on the food they serve, or who their suppliers are.”