An audit by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) of halal claims on meat has found most companies are compliant with the rules.

Animals such as cows, veal, lamb, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, ducks, game birds, bison and venison are considered halal, but must be prepared according to Islamic laws for their meat to be suitable for consumption.

Audits were conducted in 25 businesses between July 2019 and February 2020. They focused on assessing food business controls to substantiate halal claims made on items being produced or sold.

Breaches related to documented controls not reflecting operational checks and the display of certificates regarding the halal status of meat provided by suppliers.

The only recommendation from officials was that companies making claims about the halal status of the meat and poultry they sell should ensure information given to consumers is accurate and up to date.

Assessing halal claims
Consumer-facing food businesses were looked at first, including retail outlets with butchery counters, restaurants, hospital catering, butchers’ shops, and an airline caterer. This was followed by audits at a meat and poultry wholesaler, two processors and three slaughter plants; one each for beef, lamb and poultry.

Verification of the status of meat and poultry back through the supply chain was done by tracing the batch and products to the processing and slaughter plants. Halal claims made by the 19 consumer-facing outlets were substantiated in all but one case.

Advertisement of claims by consumer facing businesses was by general signage, display of certificates for the halal status of meat and poultry on sale, on the menu or other business literature, by labeling, on their websites or through social media.

Halal status of meat and poultry was typically indicated on commercial documentation or labels by the processors and slaughter plants.

From audits in the consumer facing businesses, auditors found a relatively small number of processors and slaughter plants supplied many of them.

Several certificates displayed at point-of-sale on retail premises were not current but were updated on request.

Suppliers approved for halal slaughter
Of the five processors and slaughter plants, one was self-certified; sending their own personnel to supervise halal slaughter at supplying slaughter plants. The remaining four were certified by third-party halal certification bodies who had people on site during halal production or slaughter.

Three consumer facing businesses handled both halal and non-halal products. In one case, the halal product was sold in the original packaging, with supplier labelling. In the other two, there were well-documented controls regarding segregation, traceability and labelling of halal and non-halal meat and poultry products. Controls were included in the food safety management system and records were maintained.

In businesses that dealt with halal and non-halal meat and poultry, the audit found there were effective operational and documented controls on the segregation, traceability and labelling of the different types of meat.

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