HALAL meat from unstunned animals will continue to be supplied to 27 Lancashire schools next term.

The county council has decided to suspend its ban on beef and lamb from animals which are not rendered unconscious before Islamic religious slaughter until its full meeting on October 18.

This will give all Lancashire's county councillors the chance to reconsider the authority's ban on halal meat from unstunned animals.

The county council's cabinet took a decision in July to provide only stunned halal meat, except poultry, to schools.

But the Lancashire Council of Mosques, which has a strict definition of halal meat as coming from only unstunned animals, objected and threatened to ask Muslim families across the county to boycott all school meals.

This would have affected 9,000 Muslim pupils in 27 schools Blackburn, Nelson, Burnley, Rawtenstall, Hyndburn and Preston using halal meals supplied by Lancashire County Council's catering service when they return to class in September.

Now following consultations between county council leader Geoff Driver and the council of mosques, the decision has been put on hold until October 18's full meeting of the authority.

In the interim schools who currently opt for unstunned halal meat will continue to be supplied with it when the new term begins in September.

It will now be up to the full Lancashire County Council meeting to define the authority's policy on the the issue.

Cllr Driver said: "We supply halal meat to a small number of schools where it is served in dishes as one of a number of options able to be chosen by students whose parents have specifically requested it.

"The contract becoming due for renewal gave us the opportunity to consider the animal welfare issues surrounding the supply of unstunned halal meat, and we held a public consultation so that cabinet could consider all the impacts before making their decision.

"Cabinet appropriately considered the report and reached a decision under the council's procedures, however following recent communication with the Lancashire Council of Mosques we have given further consideration to the strength of feeling on both sides of the debate, and I have asked that council now be asked to take the decision."