Sir John Krebbs
Food Standards Agency
London WC2B 6NH
7th March 2003
Dear Sir John,
Re: 'Halal' Chicken containing Pork& Beef
British Muslims were dismayed to learn through the BBC1 Programme ' The Food Police' (26th February) that chicken labeled 'Halal' and widely distributed in the UK was found to contain extracts of pork and beef and high water content (between 30 - 50%). The boxes labelled in Arabic and English claimed that the chicken were slaughtered in accordance with the Islamic Shari'a.
We believe that food-related legislation can and should meet consumer interests of the Muslim community in the UK. That the various Acts of legislation (Trades Description Act, Labeling etc) that exist to protect the consumer are being defied so systematically and on such a large scale by major suppliers within the EU, is a matter of serious concern to us. This is not the first time that a large-scale fraud has been alleged in relation to mis-selling of halal meat. The British Muslim consumer is left confused and distressed to learn that the problems are on going.
Clearly achieving 'best practice within the food industry' in respect of halal meat will require a great deal of work and constant vigil. The guidance issued recently by the Food Standards Agency to local authorities outlining what they should look for when inspecting halal butchers is a very welcome step. There is a need also to issue guidance to industry and to set up an action plan to ensure compliance.
We are anxious to work with the Agency and help you - our independent food safety watchdog - in restoring consumer confidence.
We need to keep our affiliate organisations informed of the progress and would appreciate an early meeting with you and your representatives.
We look forward to meeting you
Dr M Shuja Shafi, MBBS; FRCPath
Chairman, Health& Medical Committee Member
Dr A Majid Katme, MBBS, DPM
Spokesman on Hala Meat & Food