Opinion: Over 80% halal produced in the UK is covert …WHY?

By Mohammed Saleem on behalf of ANSA

imgresAnyone following the Islamophobhic campaign in last year’s media leading up to the implementation of the new legislation for animal welfare at the point of slaughter, could be forgiven for thinking that Muslims were on a mass campaign to convert Britain to Islam with covert halal.

Media hysteria began with the Daily Mail headline in 2010: ‘Britain goes Halal… but no-one tells the public’: How famous institutions serve ritually slaughtered meat without labeling it as such. This led to scare mongering tactics by naming places where this meat was being served which alarmed and knocked community relations nationwide for six, and the House of Lords into boycotting Halal.

However, they failed to highlight the real issue of ‘Covert Halal’. The truth may hard to digest for the proponents of covert halal production and anti halal campaigners.

Naved Syed Board member of EBLEX Halal steering Group said in a recent article on HalalFocus “The main problem with halal meat and poultry industry here in the UK is that so many companies are doing covert halal”.

Birmingham City Council’s recent findings detected pork in chicken burgers. Even though the manufacturer, Humza Food, is a Muslim owned company, it doesn’t make this food fraud and the contamination issue any less serious. They claimed that their burgers and sausages were being manufactured by Penny Lane in Somerset who are not a dedicated halal plant, so who is really to blame?

By using these plants this problem will continue; with more and more school and colleges finding pork and Haram contamination in their Halal products. The fact of the matter is that most covert halal companies in the UK do not take the manufacturing and processing of halal products seriously. Another hard fact is, if they are prepared to deceive their own clients whose consumers who oppose halal, then they won’t think twice about deceiving the Muslims.

Fail safe systems, such as BRC auditing, found horse meat and pork DNA in non Halal products, as well as some certified Halal. The largest UK Halal certifier, Halal Food Authority (HFA) had certified the halal pies and pasties going to the prison services (HMPS) that were found to contain pork DNA. This brought the halal industry into disruption by showing that even with Halal certification there is no guarantee when it gets down to the advanced scientific testing of products which is now available. This also highlighted the weakness in the Halal supply chain which needs to be addressed.

It appears that the only segment of the meat industry that has not be contaminated by Pork or Horse meat is meat sold by Muslim Halal butchers, as all their sourcing of fresh meat and poultry is local. For this reason they have been ear marked as the most trusted by all communities, including non Muslims.

It is time to seize the opportunity of driving local economic development and rural regeneration for the British farming community by purchasing locally produced products. This is why Halal is pivotal for both the rural farming community and the local and national economy. The Halal market is seen as creating jobs were they are most needed

ANSA’s (Associations for non stun Abattoirs) policy for Halal has always been to work only with dedicated Halal plants and source locally produced products for the benefit of the British farming community.

The solution for the UK halal meat and poultry here in the UK is an ethical and moral issue which has to be addressed as a matter of urgency; firstly by putting an end to covert halal; and secondly regulating the industry. This can be achieved by adopting the Guidance notes issues on halal food as issued by Food standard Agency (FSA) which forms the lowest common denominator for Halal.

More meat and poultry is produced as covert halal than ever before which may act as a spanner in the works for a cohesive community. This is creating hostilities in the  communities, as more and more people are being forced to consume halal without being told.

Respectfully, all communities have a right to know where their meat is coming from and how it was processed. Any processor doing covert Halal is not showing respect for their clients, and they are in danger of losing their trust.