Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, head of certification at the Halal Authority Board – a body that monitors halal standards – said the Halal Forum – formed by the English Beef and Lamb Executive (EBLEX) – was focusing on transparency, which was not the main concern of those who consumed halal food.
“I am surprised the industry is lagging far behind on what the Muslim public expects,” said Ishaq. “This forum will be a talking shop, but not one that has any teeth to it. There needs to be more research into our needs. More research into the frequency of stunning, gas stunning and the different types of animal cruelty taking place.”
Lack of trust in suppliers, mislabelling of halal products and the vulnerability of Muslims to food fraud are other issues Ishaq said EBLEX should focus on.
“It is up to us as Muslims to do more. We will do more DNA testing, increase the frequency of unannounced audits and bring scholars together to discuss current issues,” he added.
Open up dialogue
Ishaq, however, welcomed the opportunity to open up dialogue with government and suppliers.
The Halal Forum replaces the Halal Steering Group and will meet twice a year. It is open to anyone involved in halal lamb or beef production to discuss the sector's challenges and opportunities.
The organisation will seek to engage with the full spectrum of the Halal sector representatives, said EBLEX chairman John Cross: “There will be no specifically appointed members but it will be open to anyone who has an interest in the halal sector, ensuring transparency and openness in discussion on relevant issues.”