SYDNEY, Australia: The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) has cautioned Halal consumers to stay vigilant regarding the sale of pies and other bakery items containing pork with a Halal-certified label.
A statement issued by AFIC mentioned a report published in a leading newspaper about certain businesses misleadingly using Halal certification. Over the years, vie have seen some businesses using a Halal logo without being Halal. For this reason, strict Halal standards were developed for both the domestic and international markets.
The statement said the current standards require a team of auditors that combines a food quality and hygiene expert and a suitably qualified Sharia expert to conduct the audit and to advise the clients of the required setup to ensure that their products remain Halal.
Reputed certifiers give their clients a checklist that they must abide by to ensure that their certification remains valid. Any departure from the check-list would result in a loss of certification.
“We note that the Australian story related to certification done by an Imam whose website has lapsed and there is no indication whether he is currently operating the certification business. AFIC does not wish to cast any aspersions on the certifier or the business. The purpose of this statement is to advise our community on the things to look out for when checking whether a certified product is, in fact, Halal,” the statement read.
“AFIC is a pioneer of Halal certification in Australia, we implement the highest standards as required by both the domestic and international markets and we conduct regular audits on our client’s operations to ensure that the conformity to the standards is ongoing. Any non-conformity with the standards and/or our checklist results in an immediate withdrawal of the certificate.”
AFIC also advised consumers to verify who issued the certificate when buying a Halal product.
“If the product bears the AFIC logo, then you can be sure that it is l00% Halal, the same is true for several major certifiers in Australia who abide by the rigorous domestic and international standards,” AFIC president Dr Rateb Jneid said.
“It stands to reason that any products that contain alcohol or derivatives of pig meat are not Halal. Similarly, meat products that are placed in proximity of non-halal meats would stop being Halal even if they had been Halal before getting to that point,” AFIC Halal manager Manelle Zreika.
Popular Australian bakery chain Pie Face sold so-called “halal-certified” pastries that contained pork. The outlet also cooked other pies and sausage rolls in a manner considered “haram” — strictly forbidden to Muslims — according to several leading Islamic authorities.
A report published a leading newspaper revealed that Pie Face sold pork and fennel sausage rolls as “halal-certified” and a breakfast pie that contained bacon.
Pie Face is owned by Australian petrol giant United Petroleum, already under fire following revelations that it has been selling E10 fuel containing only 1% ethanol or less, rather than the 10% common in the product. Pie Face has outlets in more than 200 of United’s service stations, as well as 20 shopfront locations around the country.