LONDON - One of the UK’s largest halal certification bodies, the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) is advising British Muslim communities not to order lamb for the Eid sacrifice due to the animals’ age criteria possibly not being met.
In a press release, HMC said it is “strongly encouraging all consumers to order sheep/mutton for Qurbani.” It has also advised shops and slaughterhouses to order sheep for the Eid sacrifice to ensure the rules are followed.
“One of the rules for Qurbani is that the lamb has to be a minimum of one year in age, however if it is six months old and resembles a 12-month-old lamb then this would be permissible to be used for the purpose of Qurbani,” said Nadeem Adam, operations director at HMC.
He explained that HMC is not able to verify the age of animals at the slaughterhouses and therefore will not be taking responsibility for anyone who orders lambs. It advised that responsibility for the age of the animal will be up to the customer, shop and slaughterhouse.
“The problem of the age of the lamb comes into being due to when the lambing season occurs here in the UK as well as the days of Eid moving several days back each year,” Adam added.
He explained that unlike cattle, lamb and sheep do not have passports and it is hard to validate their age at the slaughterhouse.
Adam noted that different demographics have different taste preferences and this may lead to some choosing lamb over mutton.
The HMC has been using different channels to promote its message to inform the companies it works with, and their retail customers.
“Prior to the weeks before Qurbani, HMC has run several social media campaigns informing consumers of the issue with the age of the animal so that they can make an informed choice when placing their Qurbani orders,” said Adam.
“Overall people have been receptive to our advice,” he said.
If the companies it works with do not adhere to HMC guidance they may face their certificate being revoked, said Adam.
HMC certifies a long list of meat suppliers and butcheries, according to its website.
“If we find any anomalies at any point in time the relevant action is taken to remedy the problem and in some instances the removal of certification may occur,” said Adam.
HALAL STANDARD, FRAMEWORK
HMC maintains what Adam says is a “universally-accepted halal criteria” that stipulates that the animal is not stunned, no mechanical slaughter is allowed and the gassing of animals is not permitted.
“Each animal is despatched manually by hand with the means of a sharp knife,” he said. HMC does not operate at sites that process pork.
The organisation certifies products for manufacturers, as well as butchers, restaurants, takeaways and caterers that follow the HMC Halal Standard. It inspects from the point of slaughter through to retail shops.
“HMC has implemented a number of preventative measures from the point of slaughter with full-time supervision ensuring compliance to the HMC Halal Standard,” said Adam.
HMC-trained personnel also make up to four random spot checks each week to the 800 plus shops that HMC certifies, he added.
“With the current movement of halal food supply chains taking place across borders HMC aims to educate members of the community so that they can make an informed choice,” explained Adam. “HMC has therefore implemented independent real-time halal certification, giving consumers the ability to buy in confidence.”
It has full-time inspectors stationed within slaughterhouses, cutting plants, and processing plants to ensure that its standards are being adhered to in real-time.
Established in 2003, HMC is an independent, not for profit, registered charity. In its most recently-filed financial statement with the UK Companies House, it said it spends an average of 16,000 hours a month inspecting 95 production sites.
For the year ending March 31, 2019, HMC reported income of £2,558,859, down from £2,708,512 in the previous year. After expenses of £2,648,626 the organisation was £89,767 in the red.
(Reporting by Hassan Jivraj; Editing by Emmy Abdul Alim [email protected])
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