Food Lovers Market should apologise to the Muslim community for its misleading advertisement stating that their Access Park store is ‘strictly halaal’. So says the Muslim Judicial Council Halal Trust, after it decided to suspend its halal certificate for the butchery section, following a complaint by a Muslim customer who noticed pork products being sold in store at the cheese counter. The customer then circulated a Whatsapp message expressing her disgust and later reported the matter to the halal body.
In the viral message, she circulated an image of the store’s brochure, which states that the store “strictly halal” and that pork products are not available at the Access Park branch.
In a statement on Thursday, the MJCHT said the Muslim community feels “unjustifiably misled” by the company’s brochure as the Access Park store was never fully Halal certified. Certain sections in store such as the butchery, bakery and hot foods, were however certified by halal certifying bodies.
“While the MJCHT certified the butchery section, we decided to suspend the halal certification as precautionary measure to eliminate any chances of possible cross contamination,” said MJCHT director Shaykh Achmat Sedick.
The halal body said in its initial findings that the MJCHT found no possible cross contamination at the halal certified butchery section inside the Access Park store. However, it believes the company should still apologise to Muslim consumers.
However, when approached for comment, Food Lover’s Market said it had in fact issued an apology to the Muslim clientele shopping at Access Park following a meeting with the MJCHT this week. It added that it welcomed the comment and guidance from the MJCHT.
“The certificate will be reinstated as soon as the MJCHT is satisfied that compliance to MJCHT’s halal standards and operating procedures are being met,” said Simon Parker , head of Butcheries for the Food Lover’s Market Group.
In addition to that, Food Lover’s Market has asked the MJCHT to cleanse the area where pork was being displayed – this was in an area separate to the butchery. Parker said all references to Access Park being a fully certified halal store will be removed from marketing materials and online platforms, pending the recertification of the butchery.
“Once this is in place, Food Lover’s Market will be mindful only to advertise the departments within the store that is Halal certified.”
“We assure you that we are taking every step we can to ensure that we fulfil the requirements set out to achieve halal certification in the butchery”.
He added that Food Lover’s Market Access Park will continue to work closely with the MJCHT to ensure compliance. VOC