Muslim consumers are in a state of alarm since a series of halal meat products were revealed to contain traces of pork DNA after testing. As a result, the Association of Non Stun Abattoirs (ANSA), has issued the "red alert" to Muslim consumers in light of the discovery of pork DNA in products in Birmingham.
Currently the halal market in the UK is worth £3bn and ANSA said it was common knowledge that the vast majority of the companies in the halal sector are non-Muslim companies with halal claims on the label.
An investigation carried out by ANSA showed that around four million Muslims, which is 3% of the UK’s population, eat 27% of the lamb and 40% of the poultry produced here. "Given this and the fact that the European halal food market is worth approximately £15bn, serving over 50m Muslims – a population estimated to have grown by more than 140% in the last decade (according to Halal Industries Group) – it is little wonder that mainstream retailers and wholesalers want to tap into halal," said ANSA.
Follow FSA guidance
As a result of mixed Muslim and non-Muslim processing companies, ANSA is calling on local authorities across the UK to work with the FSA’s guidance on halal. It said this should be done to "safeguard Muslim consumers under the law from food fraud and from unscrupulous businesses".
Halal meat must be killed in accordance to a set of Islamic rules to be called halal and, subsequently, labelling something as halal when it has not been prepared in accordance with the rules of the religion, can be deemed as fraud.
However, so far, investigations have suggested that trace contaminants may not be a result of fraud and are likely to be a result of hygiene standards that may not be as detailed as they should be. ANSA cited the director of operations at the FSA Andrew Rhodes, who said contamination was due to the same machine used for two different products – halal and non-halal.
Meat industry bodies have suggested that processors should try to have separate lines for halal and non-halal, or sanitise processing lines as thoroughly as possible. However, ANSA has urged local authorities to fully adopt the FSA’s guidance on halal foods "with immediate effect". This way, it said, the industry can "build bridges and gain the lost confidence from Muslim consumers".