No ban on Halal meat in UP, Halal-certification agencies don’t have the expertise to test products for which they issue Halal certification: says FSDA top official Anita Singh

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Syed Khalique Ahmed

NEW DELHI—Uttar Pradesh Food Safety and Drugs Administration (FSDA) department additional chief secretary Anita Singh has said there is no ban on Halal meat in the state.

Talking to India Tomorrow over the phone, she said that the ban pertained to all other Halal products other than meat.

Singh said that the meat has been excluded from the list of banned Halal items because of the sensitivity of a section of the population who consumed only Halal meat. Moreover, there are standard procedures for production of Halal meat.

About other Halal products being sold in the market like cosmetics and sugar etc, she said that the question was whether the agencies issuing Halal certification to companies had the required facilities and expertise to test whether the particular product was manufactured as per Islamic law and the final product was completely Halal, and not adulterated. She asked how could an agency issue Halal certification for a product for which the agency did not have expertise and testing facilities to check and maintain quality.

She claimed that none of the agencies issuing Halal certification has the expertise to test the products to be Halal as per Islamic standards. She said that instead of private agencies, there must be some government agency to supervise the certification because this was a very serious issue.

A Halal certification means that the products have been prepared as per Islamic law and are totally unadulterated.

She said that no private agency could issue certification for any product if the agency was not registered with the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). Singh said that even accredited agencies could issue certification only for those products for which they have been given license by NABL, and not for all Halal products.

She claimed that most of the agencies issuing Halal certification were not registered with NABL. Only one private agency, she said, approached her department with its registration with NABL.

Singh said that the Halal certification process needed to be streamlined with the involvement of NABL. She informed that NABL was in the process of preparing a list of items for which Halal certification was required. She clarified that Halal certification was not required for products like Sugar, yet certain companies sold Halal-certified sugar which was ridiculous.

Fake certification by private agencies was being done to boost the sales of certain products in India and abroad by exploiting the religious sentiments of Muslims. According to sources, agencies issuing Halal certification made a lot of money from companies that wanted to boost their sales by branding their materials as Halal products. Based on these malpractices that have been going on for the last more than a decade, Lucknow-based Shailendra Kumar Sharma filed an FIR in the Hazratganj police station. This prompted FSDA to crack down on companies involved in the manufacture, storage, and sale of Halal products in the state.

Singh said that no one should entertain any misunderstanding that the action was against any particular community. It was simply based on business malpractices by misusing the religious sentiments of people.

Many Indian companies got involved in the Halal-product business because of the demand for Halal products in Muslim countries, particularly Arab Muslim countries. According to rough estimates, global Halal business is to the tune of over $3.5 trillion which is quite lucrative. This attracted many businesspersons to join the Halal business.

The agencies against whom the FIR has been filed are Halal India Private Limited Chennai, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust Delhi, Halal Council of India Mumbai, and Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra. Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust Delhi’s chief executive officer Niyaz Farooqui, when contacted, said that his trust was authorized to issue Halal certification for certain products meant for export only, and not for the domestic market.

The IPC sections under which the case has been booked include 120B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 298(uttering words, etc with a deliberate attempt to hurt religious feelings), 384(extortion), 420(cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property),  467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document or electronic record) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief).

Singh said that the companies selling Halal products have been asked to remove Halal labels and then sell them in the market.

According to FSDA officials, the department has conducted 92 raids in 38 districts of the state and seized 2,275 products worth Rs. 5.5 lakh over the last four days, after the registration of FIR on November 17. Officials said that as many as 92 companies were selling Halal-certified products in UP and there were 600 companies all over India that had obtained Halal certificates for their businesses.

According to media reports, Halal branding was used by several food processing companies to boost sales among Muslim consumers around the globe. Reports say that companies like Cavinkare, Bikano, Daawat, Goldwinner oil, Vadilal ice cream, Amrutanjan Health Care and Gujarat Ambuja Exports, Ecotrail Personal Care Pvt Ltd, and Gujarat Ambuja Exports used Halal certification to export their products to Muslim countries.

A Cavinkare official told media persons that a Halal certification gave an edge over other competitors. The annual turnover of Cavinkare ending March 31, 2022, was reported to be Rs. 500 crores while that of Ecotrail manufacturing Iba brand of cosmetics which manufactures cosmetics stood at 2.45 million US dollars. Ecotrail is run by two Jain sisters in Ahmedabad.

A Bikano official disclosed that his company that manufactures several brands of namkeen and other products got a 30 per cent jump in sales in Malaysian and other Muslim countries after it got Halal certification.  In an interview with a newspaper, its international business head Sachin Anand said that Halal signified the highest standards of quality in Muslim societies.

Amrutanjan which manufactures pain-relieving balm entered into the Muslim countries after getting Halal certification. Harish Bijoor of Amrutanjan says that Islam is a way of life and hence Islamic branding can move on from halal foods to pharmaceuticals and the cosmetic industry also.

The head of a branding company says that since Muslims are emotional about Islamic values and hence, branding of products as Halal-certified fetches good market in Muslim countries and this is the reason why many companies labelled their products as Halal-certified after procuring Halal certification from private agencies.

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