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The Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust’s (MJCHT) certification process is fraught with loopholes – the most glaring being undertrained and ill-informed inspectors.
The organisation also doesn’t have a comprehensive manual.
This was contained in a 54-page report compiled by the Independent Halaal Review Panel (IHRP), which was established to review the organisation’s halaal certification processes after the recent scandal involving client Orion Cold Storage, which was accused of relabelling pork products as halaal.
The review panel said that while the halaal trust had a number of substantive measures in place, there was room for improvement.
In the report, the review panel said the MJC was “overly dependent” on the halaal trust for funding and the panel recommended the MJC look to alternative sources of funding without compromising its independence.
“The MJCHT must ensure it has adequate resources, capacity and skills to fulfil its mandate to the required standard and quality,” the report said.
According to the report, the halaal trust has 18 inspectors, of whom 15 are permanent.
While the trust had not yet implemented a rotation process, inspectors were allocated a fixed round.
The IHRP found that this created a risk of familiarity between inspectors and clients, which could compromise independence and consistency. The panel suggested that inspectors be formally assessed and that the halaal trust explore setting minimum basic educational standards for inspectors.
The review panel also found that, although there were inspection manuals, there was no formal written halaal certification manual or guidebook. The entire halaal certification process should be documented in a single manual, which should be updated annually as a minimum.
IHRP chairman Haroon Kalla said that the halaal trust opening its doors to scrutiny was historic. “This represents an immense leap of faith and is a milestone for the Muslim community of South Africa.”