Widespread outcry and concern from the Muslim community over yet another halal controversy, this time involving Chikro Food Market and GR Spices, has turned out to be a matter of mislabelling.
Speaking to VOC in-studio on Monday, Chris Green, the managing director and owner of GR Spices says the company takes full responsibility for the blunder and profusely apologises to the Muslim community affected by the error. He has assured customers of GR Spices that their spice facility contains no non-halal products and that they are, in fact, ICSA accredited.
“We are ICSA accredited…it is a labelling issue that occurred and the issue definitely has nothing to do with the Muslim-owned butchery [Chikro] – it was a mistake on our part. We delivered the incorrect label to that store,” said Green.
He clarified that the company does not handle any meat products, despite rumours and the misinterpretation of the GR Spices website as well as the products offered by the company. Green also indicated that while the error was a serious one, he does understand how such an error could easily have been made.
“We are spice manufacturers. We do not, at all, touch meat or sell meat. We only supply ingredients…”
“The halal and non-halal labels are very similar and I can understand why one of our pickers that picked for the Chikro order misread the label. It’s a very small detail…we delivered three rolls of labels for that order and one of them was incorrect…”
“It really has knocked us internally and obviously the person that messed up got a final written warning. It’s shaken our company for sure. This is the last mistake we’d want and the last thing we’d want to do to the Muslim community.”
Green has indicated that GR Spices is considering how to prevent these issues in future by redesigning the labels, making them distinctive. The company will look to further the training and education of staff surrounding the sensitivity of issues such as these as well, according to Green.
Meanwhile, ICSA chairperson Shaykh Thaafir Najaar in a separate interview verified the claims of GR Spices and explained that the spices of the company are certified and that human error led to the issue.
He added, however, that Chikro is in any case not certified halal by any certifier – despite the fact that the business is Muslim-owned.
Shaykh Najaar stressed that when certifying any company halal, many different factors are thoroughly examined throughout the supply chain.