The Halaal Foundation of South Africa (HFSA) says it wants to reassure the community that it always follows a stringent certification process – and the incident where a staff member of a Durban bakery, The Baking Pan, was prepared to make a cake with alcohol in it, was an error of judgement and disciplinary action was immediately taken.
The halaal certifying body was thrown in the spotlight when Mohammed Mall, the administrator of the ‘Islamic Watchdog Movement” on the Durban Muslims’ Facebook page posted an audio clip of a conversation he had with a member of The Baking Pan.
In the audio clip, Mall posed as “Jonathan” and enquired from a staff member whether the bakery could bake a cake with alcohol in it for his father’s 60th birthday. The staff member agreed, but emphasized that he will have to contact the owner of the bakery directly to process the order.
Al Qalam posed several email questions to Br. N. Khan of the Halaal Foundation of South Africa. Below are the questions and answers.
Al Qalam: As you are aware, the incident relating to The Baking Pan has caused some consternation – and has created doubt in the community. Please elaborate how a business certified by your body, was prepared to break the rules in terms of Halaal compliancy.
Halaal Foundation: The company did not violate any rules in terms of Halaal but a staff did not follow protocol of management. Telephonic orders for cakes are not to be taken (and customers are required) to come to the store directly to process their orders. The store does not sell or manufacture any non halaal products. Further, the staff in question was disciplined accordingly.
Al Qalam: You mentioned that the matter was now resolved. Please explain how this was done.
Halaal Foundation: I have called a meeting with the person who raised the concern about the complaint. After a lengthy discussion with the complainant it was clearly an error by the staff, which he has accepted. With regards to this matter, the person has visited the premises and has checked the store and to his findings, the store’s rules and regulations are all Halaal abiding.
Al Qalam: This incident has no doubt created a doubt about your certification of certain businesses, what do you say to them to allay their fears – and their doubt of its “halaalness”
Halaal Foundation: Moulana Ashraf Ismail, Head of Judiciary and the Ulema of the HFSA can assure the Muslim community at large that all stores certified by HFSA are confidently Halaal and regular inspections are done to ensure that all stores comply with Halaal rules and regulations set by HFSA. Having such messages go on social media without verifying with the certifying body concernes can lead to many unwanted issues surrounding halaal, it is therefore important to the Muslim community that should they have any queries regarding Halaal, please contact the certifying body directly.
Al Qalam: I note that your organization is certifying non-Muslim businesses. What measures do you take to ensure that non Muslim businesses at ALL times, are in compliance – and NOT the one time when inspections are carried out.
Halaal Foundation: All inspections carried out at our certified outlets are done on a monthly basis, unannounced. All suppliers are checked, verified and certified by other certifying bodies, which we accept. We employ Muslim staff at these premises to ensure the rules and regulations are adhered to at all times.