Awaaz asked HMC fourteen questions. In this article both the questions and the reply in there entirety have been published as per the promise made by Awaaz to HMC. After the HMC reply their is a point we would like to clarify regarding an incorrect statement from HMC.
Questions from Awaaz News for Halal Monitoring Committee
We would appreciate answers to the following questions which have arisen after interviews and discussions with both the general public as well as HMC approved agents. Our deadline for the reply would be 5pm Tuesday 27th September 2011 as the article would need to be completed so as to go to print the following day. We would also appreciate an early reply as there may well be follow up questions we would like to ask. Kind Regards Awaaz
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What training do the inspectors receive? Are the inspectors from the industry? Why were speedy pizzas in Dewsbury removed from HMC certification? Why were Simply Halal removed from HMC certification? Is there a problem with supplying all the products to HMC certified outlets? Can the cost in the early stage of monitoring be reduced? What form of support is given to new HMC outlets, eg. Leaflets for the consumer explaining who and what HMC are. How soon after registering with HMC does the outlet receive the certificate? Would a butcher be able to sell HMC labelled meat and poultry alongside non â€“HMC products ? or without being HMC approved? Where a HMC approved take away/ restaurant manufactures its own meat items (such as kebabs/ donner) do HMC inspect and supply the animal fat used in it? Is the animal fat supplied to production plants HMC certified? How many beef suppliers do HMC have at this time? What is the process of investigation before removing a company from HMC certification? Can all the parts of an animal be HMC certified? e.g. head, trotters, kidney etc
HMC Reply Dear AVAAZ,
Thank you for contacting HMC with your questions on 20 September 2011. This led us to notice the article in your September 9th issue about Halal Monitoring, of which we were unaware. We read this piece with interest, and found surprising the comparison being made between two organisations working in different areas of the halal industry, a halal certification organisation that works with the industry for the interests of consumers and a halal industry organisation that aims to create and raise awareness of the halal industry for the benefit of consumers. In fact, your readers should be made aware that many of the ANSA members have their products independently certified by HMC and have been working with HMC for many years. The Chairman of HMC, ShaykhYunusDudhwala met with the Chairman of ANSA, Haji AkramSaheb, owner of Pak Mecca Meats Ltd only a few months ago. In this meeting, both confirmed their commitment and support for non-stunned and working together against any attacks on the prophetic method of Dhabh. Haji AkramSaheb also made clear that this new organisation ANSA was not formed as a halal certification or monitoring organisation and is not diametrically opposed to HMC. This is confirmed on their website which makes clear that ANSA aims to create and raise awareness of the non-stunned halal industry, and as promised to HMC in the meeting, they have and will continue to fully support the work of HMC as in his words, "no one has done as much as HMC in raising awareness about the halal industry". This is why your article trying to compare two organisations that carry out different functions within the Halal industry was very surprising. However, despite this discrepancy, as you have promised readers that they will read more about HMC in the next issue, we have put together the following few paragraphs for your readers to acquaint themselves with and understand HMC. I hope this article informs and provides the wider coverage of HMC, its origin, its ethos, its membership, its criteria and system as you have indicated in your previous article of the 9 September and not limit to point issues which you have emailed to HMC. We are keen to promote the work of HMC and address any key concerns you or your readers may have. More specifically, you have asked questions relating to HMC and some that relate to individual businesses. It is our policy not to comment on contracts and relationships with specific individuals or companies. We provide information in relation to whether organisations are certified by HMC (i.e. meeting our HMC criteria) or those who leave of their own accord or have not met the criteria for Halal agreed with HMC (revoked). For ease we have summarised answers to your questions in the following paragraphs:
Background HMC was born out of one concern, to ensure the Muslim community is able to consume genuine halal, especially at a time when confidence in the halal market was extremely low and one that still prevails. HMC created a unique system of independent monitoring from slaughterhouse to outlets, with devices that identified products that are inspected and independently verified by people who represent primarily the consumersâ€™ interest and are not from the industry. HMC System and Inspection HMC places inspectors in the slaughterhouses to monitor compliance against HMCâ€™s Halal criteria. This includes checking: that the slaughterman is a Muslim, appropriate vessels are cut manually with a sharp surgical instrument, Bismillah is recited verbally, and no stunning equipment is used. All inspectors are trained by HMC to understand Halal and HMCâ€™s requirements as part of the induction process for all new recruits. They are trained to understand products, the halal method of slaughter, how to apply devices and are given field training with current employees at slaughterhouses or outlets. They are routinely supported by regional managers who continue to enforce and support our inspectors. HMC inspectors fully discharge the responsibility for Halal on behalf of the Muslim community verifying that the product met the Halal criteria. The inspectors are independent from the industry and HMC does not take part in buying or selling meat/poultry products to avoid conflict of interest. Obviously it would be counterproductive and would totally defeat the objective if a supplier is self-certifying his own product. Also, in compliance with UK/EU Law, HMC only work with abattoirs that are EEC registered and have in place trained Meat Hygiene Service Vets appointed by the Food Standards Agency who have responsibilities for all aspects of Animal Welfare and Health & Safety at the plant. MHS Inspectors who are present at all HMC certified plants ensure and declare that all animals are treated well and are fit for human consumption, (these powers are legally vested with MHS inspectors only), however, they are not concerned with any Halal criteria (as this falls beyond their remit). It is the combination of these two disciplines and independent inspection that enables HMC to meet both Islamic and Legal obligations for meat and poultry production, the only certifying body that is independently present to do this.
HMC monitors Outlets The product is then labelled and stamped allowing identification and traceability in the supply chain so that when the HMC monitors visit certified outlets, the products are easily identifiable. The shops that are HMC certified are only permitted to source HMC certified products. The HMC monitors visit outlets regularly with access to all areas in the shop, on behalf of the consumers to ensure all certified products are genuinely HMC certified. This is to help the Muslim consumer who is seeking products based on this assurance scheme to walk into an outlet and buy halal products with confidence. The HMC is governed by an elected board of fifteen people who are mainly scholars from all over the UK and who do not take any remuneration for time or expenses. They conduct their role and duties totally voluntarily. Use of Revocations If a supplier is found to break the Terms of Agreement set out in their contract with HMC, e.g. copying or misusing HMC devices and labelling non-HMC as HMC, then the supplier will be revoked from certification. Similarly, any shop that is found to be selling non-HMC meat or poultry to unsuspecting consumers, will also be revoked. HMC is a choice and not a compulsory requisite for outlets or/and suppliers, but Alhamdulillah, through the Grace of the Almighty, the demand for HMC inspected food has increased more than many predicted, and consumers have shown great support and enthusiasm for HMC. Of course, the greater demand and rapid growth has brought about its own challenges but we are striving to overcome those in partnership with the industry. Costs of HMC Certification The costs of HMC certification to abattoirs is minimal, on average of 2p per bird in poultry and approx. 2p per kilo for red meat and in return this enables HMC to employ over 135 staff to carry out the inspection and monitoring system throughout the country. HMC monitoring fee at outlets is only ÂŁ1 per day. We do not wish to add a burden to our shops but we aim to recover the costs of monitoring and consumers have indicated that this is a small price to pay for the assurance they receive. How to join HMC We have seen a rise in applications on a monthly basis and have a dedicated individual who is assigned to explain the joining process. The HMC system and its benefits are explained on HMCâ€™s website for all to access and in most applications, a local HMC representative visits the outlet and explains the HMC system. All HMC certified outlets are advertised and listed on our website without any cost.
After an outlet has completed the relevant paperwork and made an application, there will be a period of pre-monitoring and once this is satisfactorily completed i.e. the switch of products from non-HMC to HMC, then the outlet will be ready to receive certification. This is usually achieved within two weeks by the majority of our new applicants. The products that are certified are highlighted on the certificate that is displayed within all certified outlets. HMC continues to strive to help the Muslim community in consuming halal and we face many challenges both within the Muslim community and with new laws trying to be passed across the European Union to ban the prophetic method of slaughter. It is a struggle, but for this worthy cause we will continue and we urge all the readers to support us through constant prayers. For further information and to keep up to date, click on to our website www.halalmc.org
The below statement made by HMC is incorrect
â€˜Thank you for contacting HMC with your questions on 20 September 2011. This led us to notice the article in your September 9th issue about Halal Monitoring, of which we were unaware. , Awaaz first contacted HMC on 8th August and spoke to their office after which we communicated via email as they requested. We emailed HMC on 24th August regarding the use of their logo on the article, they replied and without permission we decided not to use their logo. Below is a copy of the email we sent:
From: Subject: Date: To:
firstname.lastname@example.org Wed, August 24, 2011 1:32 am email@example.com
Salaams hope your Ramadhaan is going well, we are doing an intro article on halaal monitoring this month and have used your logo as you are featured, presuming this to be fine with you we will be in touch to arrange further reasearch as per our earlier mails early Eid Mubarak kind regards Awaaz Multimedia