HFA responds to letter of criticism

The Halal Food Authority has responded to a letter that criticised the role of halal accreditation bodies.

The Halal Food Authority (HFA) has claimed the letter, which was from halal operator Naved Syed, to be inaccurate. The letter was published earlier today on MeatInfo.co.uk.

Syed’s letter criticised the role of halal accreditation bodies, such as the HFA, and blamed the HFA in particular for the recent contamination of halal meat products destined for prisons in England and Wales. The pastry items in question were claimed to be contaminated with pork DNA, but quickly withdrawn from distribution. 

Syed said the independent bodies had claimed they were acting on behalf of the government and misleading meat processing companies by doing this.

However, the HFA disputes the allegations. In a statement, it said: "HFA has never claimed that it licences the slaughterman/men. What is said and is the fact that whence a person intending to be a slaughterman applies (in HFA approved slaughter houses) for halal killing: they are trained/licenced by the OVS and the slaughterhouse concerned under the given scheme.

"As a Muslim they are expected to fill a form for HFA to scrutinise for approval as a "Muslim". This form ensures that they know the rendition that is done at the time of the slaughtering and are Muslims by faith.

"To have a Muslim slaughterman for halal slaughtering is one of the three sections named in WASK 99-400 and were proposed by the HFA at the time the EU directive was being formed into regulation.

"HFA is concerned and saddened by the said contamination of pies. It is surprising that contamination was discovered at the distributor’s and the sole responsibility of the breach of contamination rule would lie with the processor together with contravention of the labelling compliance."

President of the HFA Masood Khawaja also asked that a previous HFA statement (issued by the HFA on 4 February 2013) be given attention, and in particular the section that said: "Halal Food Authority along with the Food Standards Agency want to reassure the public that no pork meat was found in halal products meant for prisons in England and Wales.

"County Tyrone family owned food company McColgan’s Quality Foods and distributors 3663 withdrew products as soon as traces of pork DNA were found, for some meals that were still in the distribution chain and had not reached its intended destination.

"The products were being produced by McColgan’s under contract for 3663 supplying food to prisons. This does not appear to be a deliberate attempt to introduce another meat. Instead, traces of pig DNA in meat products were found as a result of ultra-sensitive DNA testing. These tests were carried out following the discovery of horse meat in beef-burgers produced in County Monaghan. The burgers had been on sale in the UK and the Republic of Ireland."