UK: EBLEX Halal Steering Group being disbanded angers Muslims



In a move which has proven unpopular among some within the Halal sector, red meat levy body EBLEX has established a new open Halal Forum to replace the current Halal Steering Group.

The organisation has announced that forum will take place twice a year and will be open to anyone involved in the Halal sector. However, it has been accused of making the decision behind “closed doors” without discussing it with its members first.

Board member of the EBLEX Halal Steering Group, Naved Syed, said: “They have closed the Halal Steering Group because they were never supporting it in the first place, and I am very angry about it. They are stealing our levy for the benefit of non-Muslim companies and they are getting rid of the main players.”

EBLEX responded to Syed’s comment, saying that the group members had been advised the format was being discussed at a board meeting last week.

EBLEX chairman John Cross commented, “Much of the work we do benefits the whole industry, including the Halal sector – in particular in terms of export work and marketing, to which we allocate a significant spend.

“There is no suggestion that we are going to be doing any less work that benefits the Halal sector.”

Syed said that it is not a question of not doing any less work, it is a question of not doing anything at all.

EBLEX collect over £5 million levy from the Halal market per anum. Two years ago they commissioned the production of 2 posters for the Halal market, which is the only thing that invested in that has benefited the 3,500 independent Muslim butcher shops.

Meanwhile, Cross stressed the importance of the forum due to “ensuring transparency and openness.” He claimed the forum will aim to engage with the sector’s representatives.

The timing of the forum’s first session has yet to be confirmed, but is due to take place this year.

Syed mentioned the other thing that had worried them was when they discovered that the three main Muslim Steering Board members were in an ongoing dialogue and speaking with one voice. From that day they went behind the scenes to create division, and no further meetings had taken place since.

Mohammed Saleem, policy and communication director for ANSA, said that they also had several meetings with Mr Nick Allen, sector director of EBLEX, where they raised their concerns regarding the levy and how it was being spent. One of the main concerns for ANSA members was why EBLEX were funding the Red Tractor scheme [the quality standard mark] when they had blatantly told Muslim Abattoirs that Red Tractor would never endorse/certify any Halal abattoirs performing the religious method of slaughter for Halal as defined in the statutory law?

Last month Saleem sent an email to Mr Nick Allen, sector director of EBLEX, asking why EBLEX sponsored NATIONAL BUTCHERS WEEK from the 4 March to 10 March, 2013, but completely ignored all the Muslim butcher shops by excluding them from their marketing strategy.

The response he received was, “Our frustration stems from the lack of constructive suggestions from the Halal sector that do not infringe either state aid rules or operator aid rules. It is my intention to call a meeting as soon as possible to bring together the Halal Steering Group and some other invited people we have had discussions with. We can then report on the work we have been doing in relation to the sector and perhaps find some ways forward.”

Saleem was surprised to find out that they had proceeded by disbanding the Halal Steering Group, when they had agreed with Saleem’s email by saying, “Where I do agree with you that EBLEX could do more in the Halal sector.”

During their Butcher’s Week campaign not one mention was given to the Halal market or to the Halal butcher shops. They had deliberately ignored the Muslim butchers and independent wholesalers. This is nothing short of islamophobia and institutionalised discrimination at its worse.

Article Two

For more information on the current Eblex Board Members please see the article below:

1 April 2013

New members appointed to the EBLEX board
The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has appointed three new EBLEX board members to help steer its work enhancing the profitability and sustainability of the English beef and lamb sector.

Ros Turner, Rizvan Khalid and Mark Allan will take up their roles on 1 April 2013.

Ros is an eighth generation farmer, running her own grassland farm in Leicestershire. She has a flock of 125 early lambing Suffolk Cross ewes and 250 Mules ewes lambing in March, and also produces hay and haylage for the equine market. In addition, Ros runs a small retail grass and fodder crop seed business. Off the farm, she is actively involved in the NFU and is currently a member of the East Midlands regional livestock board.

“I’m delighted to become an EBLEX board member as I believe I can bring a practical and common sense approach to decisions affecting the industry,” Ros said.

“I’m particularly keen to help communicate to levy payers the work EBLEX is doing on a global scale, as there is an awful lot of activity taking place to benefit the beef and sheep sector that grassroots farmers aren’t necessarily aware of.”

Rizvan is senior director of Euro Quality Lambs, a family-run abattoir based in Shropshire, with a focus on the lamb export trade. A chartered accountant by profession, Rizvan has also completed an MSc in Meat Science and Technology. He is an active member of the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) and the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers (AIMS) and sits on both the EBLEX Better Returns Programme steering group and the EBLEX Halal steering group (now disbanded).

Rizvan said: “I feel proud and honoured to have been selected to join the EBLEX board. Hopefully I will be able to offer my knowledge in lamb processing for the benefit of the industry, particularly from a scientific, export and Halal perspective.”

Mark is head of livestock procurement at Dawn Meats UK, based in Bedfordshire. Having worked in the industry for over 20 years, Mark has experience of every aspect of the meat processing sector. He is currently responsible for purchasing cattle and sheep for all five Dawn Meats abattoirs, which involves interaction with farmer suppliers as well as managing a team of livestock buyers.

“Having spent my career working throughout the red meat industry, I’m looking forward to bringing my experience of the whole meat supply chain to the EBLEX board,” Mark said.

“I also have a good understanding of the challenges faced by beef and sheep farmers through regular contact with our farmer suppliers, enabling me to take a balanced approach to the issues affecting the industry.”

EBLEX chairman John Cross has also welcomed the appointments.

“Ros, Mark and Rizvan have a wealth of knowledge and experience and I look forward to working with them to determine EBLEX’s future strategic direction,” he said.

“We have historically attracted a high calibre of board members and these appointments are no exception.”