For Muslims, the authenticity of Halal is an important decision when choosing to eat food. With many Muslims now concerned that the word Halal and Halal sign is an insufficient form of Halal guarantee, they continue to search for innovative ways to identify genuine Halal products from Haram (permissible from the impermissible). So is the use of the EEC number a reliable way of searching out Halal?
All Establishments in the UK are identifiable by a unique four digit code. This code (usually preceded by the letter UK and ending EC) uniquely identifies slaughterhouses, cutting plants and processors. So theoretically if you know the codes of Establishments processing Halal then this can be used to identify Halal food.
In fact, HMC inspectors carry an Iphone App with a database of 1100+ Establishments to quickly identify the source of meat or poultry. It matches this with HMC Halal Approved Establishments.
So why is it that HMC is concerned by what it finds when using EEC numbers as a mechanism for identifying Halal alone?.
The Catalogue of Problems
HMC has found that there are numerous issues with identifying Halal using EEC numbers alone. While it can help identify information about Establishments that do not process Halal it does not guarantee the remaining.
HMC inspectors continue to catalogue issues with the sole use of EEC numbers (and continue to find more on a weekly basis):
- The Halal Mix Box – HMC routinely finds boxes from Halal Establishments with correct EEC numbers but the meat or poultry inside has been tampered with by a mix of identifiable Halal products with non-Halal. HMC recognises this because all HMC approved meat carries labels on each chicken and the re-constituted boxes have been created by mixing non-labelled products (HMC monitors routinely ask for such boxes to be returned to distributors from its shops).
- The Halal Carousel (the re-packaged Haram to Halal game). HMC is aware of Establishments (that claim to be Halal) but buy products from various Establishments for re-sale including non-Halal. This carouselled product now carries a new EEC number but the original source EEC number is lost!
- Issues at some Halal Establishments – HMC has catalogued issues with Halal Establishments who have failed to carry out the critical requirements for Halal. For example, in the past few years, even Qurbani Meat from Halal Establishments were found to have not been slaughtered in the correct manner (see HMC Newsletter 12 – Sacrificing Our Faith – Qurbani fiasco hits Scotland and 2011 – Halal Monitoring Committee Qurbani Report).
- Issues at 100% non-stunned Halal Establishments – HMC has found trucks arriving from elsewhere with slaughtered animals being re-distributed as 100% non-stunned Halal.
HMC has been in discussion with trading standards who acknowledge these issues. Although of concern, they explain that they do not have the man power or the resources to fully enforce these issues nationally.
Nadeem Adam, Head of Operations at HMC explains, “HMC is the only certifying organisation that has a traceable system in place from slaughter house to shops and restaurants. All consumers need to look for is a yellow certificate on the shop window, a certificate inside the outlet and the name of the outlet on our up-to-date website, and the checks for Halal are being done on their behalf”.
So the EEC number is a method for establishing non-Halal Establishments but buyers be aware as its riddled with risk!
Notes to Editors: HMC is the largest certification body in the United Kingdom with 550+ restaurants and butchers and 80 production plants that are inspected on a daily basis by HMC. HMC has become the most trusted halal certification organisation for the Muslim community – ensuring that the meat they eat is genuinely Halal!