Halal bodies urge further action by Food Standards Agency and Defra on wrongly labelled products

Two organisations representing Muslims have called on the government to ban food manufacturers from self-certifying foods as halal, following uproar over a ‘halal’ Aldi product which actually contained pork. 

Manufacturer Punjab Pakora last week apologised for a “labelling mistake”, which led it to label its Aldi black pudding, containing pork blood and skin as halal. The product was recalled, and Aldi said customers were welcome to return the product to store for a refund.

But now, the Halal Food Authority and the Sharia Halal Board have called for an end to the practice of halal self-certification, saying it puts Muslims at risk.

“We have been trying for a while now to put a stop to self-certification of factories and processing plants,” said Allama Qazi Abdul Aziz Chishti, from the Sharia Halal Board. “This is one of the key issues that Muslims face in UK and this gives companies the right to actively mislead Muslim consumers, stating a product is halal by simply using a local religious person or in house imam for support. This practice gives way to mess-ups such as the recent one made by Punjab Pakora. It must stop.”

Abdul Rasool Mansoor Al-Azhari, also from the Sharia Halal Board, added: “We will be writing to the Food Standards Agency and Defra regarding this issue and have asked for both companies to be investigated thoroughly. An apology is simply not enough after making such a major mistake. We need to understand how this mistake occurred and what the company in question is doing to avoid such a mistake in the future.”

Zena Butt, spokeswoman from the Halal Food Authority, told Meat Trades Journal, her organisation backed compulsory outsourcing of halal certification. “We have always disputed self-certification,” she said. “In terms of the response issued by Aldi and Punjab Pakora – though the labelling of halal seems to have been a genuine mistake – there are no compromises when it comes to faith. There will be no way to tell how many Muslims unknowingly ate this product without questioning its halal suitability. Unfortunately, halal is not protected by the government so it is on all our hands to ensure that a situation like this does not arise again.”

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