The Muslim Judicial Council’s Halal Trust (MJCHT) has given the reassurance that Air Chefs based at Cape Town International Airport is fully halal compliant. The halal body conducted an investigation into the company’s operations after it received a complaint from a former staff member at Air Chefs.
Employees at a food company Air Chefs, who caters for South African Airways (SAA) flights claimed that they had informed their management, that non-halal meats and utensils were being used in the halal kitchen. Three kitchen staff members alleged that SAA’s ‘halal food’ is being contaminated with pork by their negligent co-workers.
The staff members, who have asked not to disclose their identity, told the Daily Voice that they had notified management with regards to the activities taking place. VOC had contacted Air Chefs but they did not respond.
“On completion of his inspection at Air Chefs, our Halal inspector returned to our offices, submitted a report and advised that all the protocols pertaining to the Halal and Food Safety Standards were in compliance,” said the MJCHT Chief Operations Officer, Shaykh Moosa Titus.
Air chefs have a separate halal kitchen in which all halal food is prepared, plated and sealed. At least two halal monitors are present at all times. In addition, the staff of the halal kitchen wears a separate uniform to the non-halal staff and are not allowed free access between kitchens.
According to Shaykh Titus, the Non-halal staff are not allowed to enter the halaal section unless they change their uniform and wash their hands — a procedure that is overseen by security at the transit area outside the halal kitchen door.
The MJCHT management subsequently had a meeting with Head Manager of Air Chefs: Food and Catering Department, Sipokazi Pupum on Tuesday to verify the details and to provide additional recommendations.
“Earlier this year the MJCHT conducted a workshop on the topic of halal with all Air Chefs’ food handlers. This training will be re-introduced as soon as possible so as to avoid any misunderstandings. Although there is currently a gate and security guard on duty, as an extra precaution, we are requesting management to enclose the transit area or area where aprons are hung and the wash basins are positioned. The enclosure would ensure the area is better monitored by security,” Shaykh Titus continued.
Ms Pupum agreed that they will look into the extra precautionary measures advised by the MJCHT. She further reassured MJCHT members that she was not aware of any discrepancies and explained that she has been working for Air Chefs for the last 15 years.
“She stated to us that her experience within the company has provided her with an in-depth understanding of the halal requirements and she will not compromise on halal protocols,” Shaykh Titus said.
“Based on our findings the MJCHT confirms halal compliance of Air Chefs halal certified kitchen in
Cape Town. We will continue to monitor their kitchen and ensure all protocols are adhered to,” he concluded.
Halal inspectors are instructed to unexpectedly, and without any prior notice, present themselves to the client and conduct halal checks on the premises.
Some of the checks include, but are not limited to:
– a minimum of two halal staff members (or monitors) that are on duty at all times.
– cold rooms, dispatch bays and holding areas (if any) are kept clean of any possible contamination.
– staff are appropriately dressed at all times (the wearing of hair nets or scarves).
– brushes used in the kitchen are halal compliant.
– meat and other suppliers are also vigorously checked for halal compliance.