IRELAND – The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has revealed that its Audit of Halal Claims on Meat and Poultry outcome proved satisfactory despite a number of legislative breaches.

The Audit of Halal Claims on Meat and Poultry aimed to assess the validity of claims made by Food Business Operators (FBOs) regarding the halal status of the meat and poultry products examined. The FSAI has overall responsibility for the enforcement of food law in Ireland. It carries out targeted audits of food businesses to determine the level of compliance with current food law and the effectiveness of its implementation.

This targeted audit of food businesses was undertaken as part of the FSAI’s planned programme of audits. The audit focused on the assessment of food business operator controls in place to substantiate any halal claims being made regarding products being produced or offered for sale. It did not assess the religious aspects of halal slaughter, nor the varying methods of slaughter that are considered to come under the umbrella of halal slaughter.

Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. In reference to food, it is the dietary standard, as prescribed in the Qur’an, the Muslim scripture. For meat to be considered ‘halal’, it must be prepared according to Islamic laws in order for their meat to be suitable for consumption.

The audits commenced in consumer-facing food businesses. These included retail outlets with butchery counters, restaurants, butchers’ shops, as well as an airline caterer. Following the audits in the consumer-facing businesses, details of meat and poultry suppliers, labels and other documentation were collated.

Audit upshots

 A substantial number of audit trails were developed to assess the validity of claims made regarding the halal status of those meat and poultry products. This involved audits of meat and poultry wholesalers, processors and slaughter plants.

The outcome of this programme of audits was found to be satisfactory despite a number of legislative breaches.  All, but one of the claims traced back to the slaughter plant regarding the halal status of meat were substantiated.  The consumer-facing businesses that were audited purchased halal meat and poultry from suppliers that were approved to conduct halal slaughter.

The food business operators’ controls at processing and slaughter plant level, relating to traceability and supply of halal meat and poultry, at the time of this audit, were found to be effective.

The report recommends food businesses making claims with regards to the halal status of the meat and poultry they sell, should ensure that the information provided to consumers at point of sale is accurate and up to date.

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