Halal group backs police raids to tackle ‘huge problem’

By John Wood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Trading standards, Birmingham

The HMC warned of the "huge problem" of halal meat mislabelling
The HMC warned of the "huge problem" of halal meat mislabelling
A halal certifying body has warned of the “huge problem” of bogus halal meat facing ethnic and other consumers, while offering support for police and Trading Standards’ raids on halal meat wholesalers.

The raids were carried out last month by Birmingham City Council Trading Standards and Environmental Health officers, supported by West Midlands Police, after surveillance of meat transactions in the city.

Hundreds of chickens, computer equipment and documents were seized during the raids, and investigations are continuing to determine whether offences have been committed.

A spokesperson for the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) told FoodManufacture.co.uk that he believed the raids were the first ever carried out by Trading Standards investigating allegations of bogus halal labelling.

He said: “We definitely support their action. I think it is about time they supported the Muslim community. Other trading standards need to do the same.

'Halalness'

“In terms of the halalness of the meat, whether it should be labelled halal or not, it is the first action I can recall. Trading standards in Birmingham are the first ones to take up that baton and said they will support the Muslim community. Elsewhere in the country nothing is happening and other Trading Standards departments need to get on board.

“They need to support the Muslim community and to understand the complexity of the halal market and clamp down on rogue traders.”

He warned the scale of the problem was huge. “The government, trading standards, everyone needs to get involved to protect the Muslim consumer from unscrupulous traders who are taking advantage of the halal industry. There are huge problems. The main issue is that it is so unregulated people will take advantage.”

Many abuses

The HMC had uncovered many abuses of the system, he added. “We have 140 staff, we have inspectors present at all times at the abattoir when slaughter is taking place. Then we check the shop four times a week to ensure the stock they are selling is the stock we have monitored. Even then, we are revoking quite a few shops because they are trying to bypass our system.

“If that is happening in such a vigorous system of monitoring and inspection you can just imagine what is happening in shops that are totally uninspected, unregulated, and free to do whatever they want.”

He said one of the problems was that there was not an agreed definition of what is halal. While everyone could agree on the main principles there were differences of opinion over details, and the Muslim community needed to address them.

“That needs to be sorted out within the Muslim community. But then trading standards needs to support the Muslim community. Just as someone cannot sell a non–vegetarian sandwich as vegetarian, similarly they need to clamp down on those people selling non-halal as halal.”

Meanwhile, the HMC suspended all supplies from Zaman Brothers Wholesale Halal Meat cutting plant, Bradford last month. The HMC said it took the decision after allegedly discovering fake labels on its products.

 

 

 

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2 comments

Welfare First

Posted by Chris C,

Animal welfare comes first, then hygiene and both before any religious requirements.

That is what the inspectors need to concentrate on!

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That's rich HMC! It was part HMC approved premises that were raided

Posted by Don't trust your butcher,

Come on HMC, get your house in order. If your inspectors were there, how is that they didn't pick up non halal being passed as halal? Forget pre-stunned meat.

The legal definition needs to be sorted out and guidelines issued to local authorities so they can protect consumers.

Anyone involved in the halal industry knows the crime of missing meats. Money takes priority above the interests of consumers.

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