UK Qurbani 2020
So we begin! No sooner has Ramadan ended then the first Qurbani queries start to come in! We outline the key considerations for consumers that will affect UK Qurbani in 2020.
New regulatory requirements
The Food Standards Agency is increasing pressure on the industry to make mandatory the chilling of Qurbani carcasses at the abattoir rather than allowing it to chill during transport in refrigerated lorries on the way to retail butchers and in the butchers’ fridges themselves.
The routine regulatory requirement is for carcasses to be chilled to a core or surface 7°C prior to dispatch from the abattoir. Historically however there has always been allowances during Qurbani because many consumers want to prepare and consume their Qurbani meat as soon as possible for religious reasons due to the practice of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).
Imam Ahmad narrated that Buraydah (may Allah swt be pleased with him) said, “The Messenger of Allah swt (peace and blessings of Allah swt be upon him) did not go out on the day of (Eid) al-Fitr until he had eaten, and he did not eat on the day of (Eid) al-Adha until he came back, then he would eat from his sacrifice.” The subsequent ruling is ‘It is best for the one who will do Qurbani that to not eat or drink anything from the dusk of dawn on the 10th of Zul Hijjah (i.e. the day of Eid/Qurbani) and when the Qurbani is done, he/she eats from its meat.’.
If enforced the new position will reduce Qurbani capacity in the UK (as occupied chillers create a bottleneck for abattoirs fulfilling the large demand on Qurbani day) and significantly delay Qurbani delivery (abattoir chilling will take many hours and thus in practice delay Qurbani delivery by a day). This has the potential to reduce availability and increase price.
After making representation the FSA have agreed to allow Qurbani to be taken away quickly (after an initial 30 minutes chilling) as long as customer declarations are signed/acknowledged, for both direct sales or indirect via a butcher appointed as the consumer’s agent. A consumer information leaflet [click to read] to will also be made available to consumers as a reminder of how to handle and cook their Qurbani safely. This is an interim solution until stakeholders reconvene after this year’s Qurbani and use the French authorities regulatory position as a reference to establish protocols for future years.
The FSA explains they are taking this step for food safety and legislative reasons. However, they are unable to explain why this practice is allowed by the French authorities who follow the same EU regulations.
It is highly likely Qurbani will be on Friday 31-July judging by the moon-maps and the fact that the Saudi pre-calculated Ummul Qura calendar marks Friday as the first day of Nahr! This means Day 2 will be Saturday and Day 3 Sunday. It is highly unlikely abattoirs will operate on Sunday since it is expensive working on the weekend and workers will already be fatigued after a busy week supplying normal halal meat for Eid day celebrations – particularly for those that perform Qurbani internationally. Thus overall Qurbani capacity in the UK will likely be reduced.
Print Qurbani date & time on your label
Qurbani can only begin at least 30-45 minutes after sunrise in the abattoir’s location (i.e. after Eid salah is performed). EQL prints date & time on your Qurbani carcass label (easily done with existing computer traceability systems) to provide consumers with confidence that it was performed during the eligible time and not performed prematurely. Due to demand too many animals destined for Qurbani consumers are slaughtered prior to Eid. Animals slaughtered prematurely before Eid prayer are NOT Qurbani and are simply considered normal halal meat. Please be aware and ask your butcher what assurances you can get that your Qurbani was offered during the eligible time only
For city slickers a reminder of animal categories and terminology is useful when navigating what Qurbani animal to offer!
Lamb – There are over 100 breeds of lamb in the UK adapted to the terrains, hills and mountains of Wales, England & Scotland. Some breeds grow quickly and are ready for slaughter from 3 months onwards. The average UK lamb is slaughtered around 6.5 months of age and weighs around 40kg. Lamb meat is very soft and tender, melting in your mouth, and is the most expensive on a per kg basis. Qurbani lambs must be over 6 months of age to qualify. These are available but tricky to source so ensure your Qurbani provider has the right contacts and supply chains to provide assurance and declarations over the age of the animal.
Old Season Lamb – An older lamb up to around one-year-old. This term is used to differentiate it from the early new season or spring lamb that are slaughtered from 3 months of age onwards. OSL is larger in size and age and is typically 9-15 months of age. As lamb ages, it develops more flavour but becomes less tender.
Hogget – A sub-category of Old Season Lamb where the 2 front adult teeth have erupted and with a typical age between 1-2 years. A Musinnah is mentioned in hadith as that which has (at least 2) adult teeth.
Sheep – Typically 6 years of age (but categorised as sheep once over 2 years of age) with a full mouth of old adult teeth (many are missing if they are too old!). They are larger in size & weight again. The meat has more flavour but is tougher and chewier so needs slower longer cooking. This meat is known as mutton and is the cheapest on a per kg basis.
Goat – Unlike lamb goats MUST have erupted adult teeth or be at least one year old to be eligible. Kid goats (under 1 year) are ineligible.
Veal – Veal is NEVER allowed for Qurbani as cattle must be over 2 years of age (the age they typically erupt two adult teeth)
Aside from the animal categories, there is great variability in the size and weight within each category. Make sure you ask for the approximate weight so you’re comparing like-for-like! There are different weights to consider
Liveweight – The weight of the live animal before slaughter. UK breeds have significantly different mature weights so a 6-year-old Welsh Mountain sheep will weigh significantly less than a fast-growing 4-5 month Charollais lamb.
Carcass weight – The weight of the carcass after slaughter and the internal organs removed. This may be 40-50% of the liveweight depending on the animal category, breed, gender, fat level, confirmation, feed in-take and time of the season.
Cut weight – The weight of the meat after cutting the carcass down into pieces ready for cooking, removing any excess fat, trim and bones. This may be 70-80% of the carcass weight depending on how it is cut e.g. English cuts, desi cuts (for curry pieces), bone-in/boneless, fat on/off etc.
Seasonality effect on supply and prices
UK lamb is predominately grass-fed. Grass is natural and cheaper than buying feed. Lamb prices peak around May time and bottom out around September time. With the Hijri date moving back 10-11 days each year Qurbani prices move back up the price curve where supply becomes tighter. Inevitably Qurbani prices will increase as the date moves back to May.
Eligibility & availability of Lamb Qurbani
Lamb must be Jaz’ah (mature, over 6 months old) to qualify for Qurbani. 40kg liveweight is a good indicator of maturity. As UK is a long country from north-to-south, with grass-growth starting early in the south and finishing later in the north, lambs are born throughout the year but more so at peak times. To provide the maximum assurance for Qurbani only lambs that are of certain breeds, over at least 40kg and from certain regions should be considered. They should be sourced with farmer declarations that confirm the eligibility & age criteria. It is possible to source such lamb but it is not the norm so extra care and precaution must be taken when selecting the right Qurbani-provider that gives you confidence.
With Covid and social distancing in place it is unfortunately unlikely that consumers will be allowed access to witness their Qurbani. This is to protect abattoir colleagues and FSA officials since many Qurbani consumers will travel from the cities where the incidence of Covid will be higher than in the countryside. Eid salah will also be restricted whilst precautions are implemented.
Get in touch to discuss how to perform charity qurbani on your behalf. We work with a number of charities and food banks to distribute high-quality qurbani meat to recipients across the UK. Lamb, in particular, is an expensive meat and so is gratefully received by those who cannot afford to buy it throughout the year.
Orders and Contact
For UK Qurbani 2020 orders visit our Qurbani page. Prices will be released when 1st Dhul Hijjah is announced. If you have any queries that aren’t answered on the FAQ pages use our chat function on the Qurbani pages of our website or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org or Whatsapp us on 07539 586612.
We wish you a blessed Eid and may Allah swt accept your Qurbani!