PORK is off the menu at one of Merry Hill's Subway stores due to demand from Muslim customers.

It has emerged the popular sandwich chain's restaurant, located on the lower mall of the Brierley Hill shopping centre, is one of 189 halal-only stores.

The outlet, which opened in December last year, substitutes ham and bacon for turkey ham and rashers to cater for Muslim customers who are forbidden to eat meat from pigs and any non-halal food.

In Arabic, the term halal means 'permitted' or 'lawful' and defines anything that is allowed or lawful according to the Qur'an.

It is often used in the context of food - especially meat - to indicate the food has been prepared in accordance with Muslim principles and techniques.

Killing an animal without prior stunning is illegal in Britain, but the law gives special exemption to Muslim and Jewish meat producers on the grounds of religion.

However a Subway spokesman said all animals used for its meat were "stunned prior to their slaughter".

The shopping centre's other Subway restaurant, located in the food court, is not a halal store.

Brierley Hill councillor Zafar Islam welcomed the choice given to shoppers and said it would encourage people to visit the centre if they had a food outlet that catered to their dietary requirements.

He said: "I think the stores are probably responding to consumer demand. My view is there should be choice but no-one should force others to eat particular things."

Cllr Islam said Merry Hill visitors would like to have food that is "in keeping with their religious and cultural beliefs" and said that did not just apply to Muslims, but everyone: " The more choice we have the better."