Food fraud: Ton of meat seized by food safety officers from halal butchers in Glasgow

Glasgow City Council’s environmental health teams have been investigating allegations that halal meat is being supplied by illegal sources to city food outlets.

A-halal-butcher-s-in-Lond-011In the biggest case to date, food safety officers seized 1000kg of meat from two halal butchers operating in the city.

The meat – which was believed to be lamb but couldn’t be verified because it had no labels – had been supplied by an unapproved cutting plant in Lancashire.

Halal meat involves slaughtering animals or poultry in a specific way. It is eaten by followers of Islam and is supplied by specialist butchers.

A report has been sent to the council’s Health and Social Care Police Development committee about traceability in the halal meat supply chain.

The report says officers launched a project in 2010 to find out if illegal meat was being processed in or distributed to Glasgow food outlets following allegations.

They found there was no evidence of meat being illegally slaughtered but documentation and labelling was “in many cases insufficient”.

The biggest haul happened in 2012. Recent allegations received include the supply of meat by unregistered traders, the supply of meat without any health marks and illegal street trading of meat from unmarked vans.

The report also referenced the horsemeat scandal in January 2013, which raised public awareness of the potential for food fraud in the meat supply chain.

The report said: “It would appear that some food businesses have not learned lessons from the horsemeat scandal.

“Unless traceability significantly improves it will continue to be impossible to differentiate legal meat from that originating from illegal sources.

“Consequently Glasgow food businesses remain at risk of food crime from elsewhere in the food chain.”

There are a total of 43 halal butchers across the city.

Australian audit being conducted into third party certifiers including halal and kosher organisations

The Islamic organisations paid to certify halal meat in Australia are being reviewed as part of an overall audit of food certifiers, which includes organic and kosher organisations.

halaldThe Senate hearing into food certification has been told that there are 22 different halal certifying organisations covering about 70 abattoirs which export to Islamic markets.

Greg Read, from the Federal Agriculture Department, told the hearing the latest review came on top of the regular six-monthly audit carried out on processing plants and a regular review of the Islamic organisations responsible for certification.

“(It is ) just to give us high levels of confidence that’s (the system is) accurate nationally, then the department will effectively do a higher level review over the top of all of those to ensure that we haven’t got any plants that are differing and thereby exposed to the international markets should there be a further review,” he said.

The inquiry, charged with looking at food labelling and third party certification, has attracted over 1,400 submissions, with many focussing on halal certification.

Opponents argue the certification fee is effectively a tax, while prior to the hearing a number of critics claimed the monies raised could be channelled to extremist organisations.

Halal slaughter: Outcry after UK undercover film exposes brutality of industry

Nigel Morris of The Independent reports that UK Ministers are under pressure to respond to growing public discontent about religious slaughter after an undercover investigation exposed the horrific mistreatment of animals at a halal abattoir.

halal.slaughterSecretly filmed footage which appears to show abattoir workers repeatedly hacking at sheep’s throats, hurling them into solid structures and kicking them in the face has intensified demands for a complete ban on the religious slaughter of animals without stunning them first.

Four slaughtermen at the North Yorkshire abattoir have had their operating licences suspended by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) after a catalogue of apparent brutality was caught on camera. The footage shows animals being treated with “gratuitous violence and contempt”, according to the charity Animal Aid, which carried out the investigation.

The film emerged days after a petition demanding that  slaughter without pre-stunning be outlawed passed the 100,000 mark, adding pressure on political leaders to bring in fresh curbs on inhumane practices in abattoirs. Government has said it has no intention of introducing new controls on the production of halal or kosher meat, a line that David Cameron repeated during a recent visit to Israel. Animals are meant to be stunned before they are killed, but there are exemptions for Muslim and Jewish producers.

The covert filming at the Bowood Lamb abattoir in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, appears to show workers hacking and sawing at throats in contravention of Islamic practice, which requires animals to be killed with one clean sweep of a knife. In one instance it took five attempts to sever blood vessels.

The petition calling for an end to non-stun slaughter has been championed by the British Veterinary Association, which has warned ministers that they “simply cannot ignore the strength of public feeling” over animal welfare.,AAAAkVf4sTE~,ZHihQoc0Mak3KW61gTbGinrWzI69us3-&bctid=4028969078001

It ain’t about food safety: Why halal certification is in turmoil

Kirralie Smith is a permaculture farmer from northern New South Wales and a mother of three. She is also the public face of the virulent campaign to boycott halal food and products.

UnknownHalal means permissible for Muslims to eat or use, and Smith’s Facebook page “‘Boycott Halal in Australia” has 41,000 supporters. She speaks at events organised by “Islam-critical” groups such as the Q Society, which has also been involved in local campaigns to stop mosques being built. Her “Halal Choices” website, she says, gets 80,000 visitors a month. 

She says her objection is not to Islam itself but the extra cost she thinks is imposed on Australian consumers by companies paying to have products – everything from milk to pies and shampoo – certified halal. 

Halal products are certified as being free from anything that Muslims are not allowed to eat or use (such as pork and alcohol). The products must be made and stored using machines that  are cleansed according to Islamic law. 

Large processing plants will have Muslim staff members who are accredited in some instances to bless the factory. Halal slaughtering of animals in Australia is done after they are stunned.

Smith and her supporters claim halal certification is a scam by Muslim interests to raise money for mosques and therefore for “jihad.” They base this assertion on media reports in France, Canada and the United States claiming certification funds had been paid to organisations linked to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Yet neither Smith nor her unofficial patron, the Q Society, could elaborate on the Australian situation. 

Three kids stricken with E. coli O157:H7 linked to London, Ontario Halal store

The London Free Press – that’s London, Ontario, in Canada – reports that after three children were diagnosed with E coli O157:H7 infections within five days, the Middlesex-London Health Unit advised the public today to avoid eating any ground beef or spiced ground beef (kofta) purchased from Westmount Halal Food Store located at 490 Wonderland Road South.

In two of the cases, children consumed kofta purchased on June 14 and 15 from the store. The source of the third child’s infection has not been identified, but the child’s family also eats halal food, although it didn’t purchase any from the Westmount store.

The public is being advised to:

• Not eat any ground beef or kofta purchased from the Westmount Halal Food Store between June 2 and today. The store is prepared to refund any customer who purchased these products.

• Contact the Health Unit (519-663-5317 ext. 2330, after hours 519-675-7523) and their healthcare provider if they have developed symptoms of severe or bloody diarrhea since June 2.

• Contact the Health Unit if they have any ground beef or kofta purchased from the Westmount Halal Food Store between June 2 and today in their home.