MJC said halaal labelling was ‘false advertising’

The Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust says that Food Lover’s Market should apologise to customers for falsely advertising that their Access Park store is fully halaal.

Last week halaal certification for the Fresher’s Butchery in the Access Park store in Kenilworth was suspended after a Muslim shopper spotted pork products in the shop.

The shopper took to social media and said: “So Food Lover’s in Access Park is stating in their weekly brochure that their Access Park store does not stock or sell pork products and that they are strictly halaal. To my disgust, I saw that they indeed stock and sell pork meat at their cheese counter.”

According to the director of the Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust (MJCHT), Sheikh Achmat Sedick, the Muslim community feels misled by Foodlover’s Market’s weekly brochure stating that their store is fully halaal.

He said that only the butcher is certified by the MJCHT, and the hot foods and bakery section is certified by the Islamic Council of South Africa.

“They should have stated that only their butcher, hot foods and bakery section is fully halaal and not the entire store,” he said.

After an initial investigation, the MJCHT found no cross-contamination in the butcher and although the pork products were sold outside of the butchery, the halaal certificate had to be suspended pending the investigation.

“The certificate was suspended as a precautionary measure to ensure no cross-contamination happened in the butchery section. The certificate was first suspended and then investigations done. The reports must be written up after consultations and then the halaal trust will determine whether to reinstate or not,” said Mr Sedick.

Food Lover’s Market issued a statement on its website, saying it welcomed the comment and guidance from the MJCHT.

“Food Lover’s Market wishes to apologise to the Islamic community shopping at Access Park. We assure you that we are taking every step we can to ensure that we fulfil the requirements set out to achieve halaal certification in the butchery,” the store said.

In a media statement issued by the MJCHT, the trust’s chief operations officer, Sheikh Moosa Titus, said: “The store’s management removed all pork products from the store, which was located in a separate area away from the butcher. This particular area does not fall under the jurisdiction of the MJCHT. The store requested the MJCHT to cleanse the area immediately,” said Mr Titus.

The nitty-gritties of halaal certification

– Halaal certification is a declaration that the facility has met with the legal requirements for halaal. Literally, “halaal” means permissible (lawful) to do, eat, drink and or to be involved in.

-During certification the halaal certifier takes an oath of ensuring that consumables or commodities are halaal. This involves controlling, monitoring, supervising, inspecting and auditing the halaal management-structures of the entire halaal operation.

-Once all the halaal requirements are met and the halaal-controls are in place, a halaal certificate is issued. This certificate, valid for year, validates that all the approved commodities or merchandises are halaal-authenticated, thus fit for Muslim consumption.

– The monitor and the butchery staff must ensure they adhere to strict guidelines of which they are trained on. This includes how the butchery staff works with and handles the products. Only staff, duly appointed, and authorised by management, is allowed to work in the halaal butchery. No other staff may enter.

– The staff cannot consume any food or beverages in the halaal certified area. They must wear protective clothing at all times and cannot leave the halaal butchery with the clothing on.

– No pork, its by-products, wine and/or any alcoholic beverages, or any other non-halaal commodities may be produced, processed, handled, prepared, stored, served, sold, or consumed at any of the MJCHT halaal certified or approved sections, facilities, production or processing plants, or abattoirs, or premises.

-There must be no exchange or mixing of commodities, crockery, cutlery, cooking utensils and equipment in the halaal and non-halaal sections, whether in preparation, production, processing, collection, washing or cleaning, drying, receiving, or storing.

-No non-halaal consumables may be brought onto, or consumed at the halaal certified sections or premises.

– All the suppliers, locally or internationally, including imports and by-products to the MJCHT halaal certificate-holder, must be halaal certified, either by the MJCHT or any other halaal body.

– All ancillary ingredients must be pre-approved by the MJCHT for incorporating it into the halaal certified commodity or operation.

– There must be, at least, two equally qualified and trained Muslim employees over-seeing and working in the MJCHT halaal certified section, facility, production or processing plant or abattoir, or premises.

– All the slaughterers at the cattle, sheep, goats abattoirs or poultry plants must be MJCHT approved or licensed slaughterers, and in accordance with the MJCHT Slaughter Standards.