Netherlands: Gov't investigates halal trade fraud

Netherlands: Gov't investigates halal trade fraud

There's a fierce discussion among Muslims on whether meat sold as halal is really so.

The General Inspection Service (Algemene Inspectiedienst, AID), an organ of the Dutch Agricultural Ministry, has now gotten involved in this debate. The service investigates fraud with halal certificates. Last month the AID raided Fasen Meat Trading, a meat wholesaler from Breda. Using forged documents the company sold several thousand tons of meat wrongly as halal to Muslims in France.

"The bulk of the European halal market is in the hands of scoundrels," says Ben Ali-Salah. He's director of Halal Correct in Leiden, which gives halal certificates. He says that documents of his certifying bureau are forged en-masse for meat cargoes which don't deserve the title of halal.

Though the term halal seems to have been naturalized, it's not legally protected. As a resort of the increasing demand - according ot the CBS there are 850,000 Muslims in the Netherlands - more and more butchers, supermarkets and meat processors pretend that their products are halal. According to Ali-Salah, most can't prove it.

It's claimed on internet forums that many restaurants also play loose with the rules. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) is accused of selling meat that is wrongly regarded as halal. Iyad Aljendi, the manager of the Halal Quality Control certifying agency in the Hague, says straight out that the chain misleads Muslim customers. He says that KFC uses a certificate that only states that a slaughterhouse can produce halal meat, but doesn't show that the meat was also slaughtered halal.

A tour of Volkskrant among four KFC branches shows that on request of clients they indeed only show the first certificate.

The problem is that meanwhile there are too many halal certificates. Because it's a lucrative trade, there many certifying agencies were set up. Ali-Salah speaks of an 'uncontrolled growth' of certifies, which he says are mostly unqualified. The Defense Ministry has meanwhile started an investigation to ensure Muslim soldiers real halal food, says army imam Ali Eddaoudi. He says that too often Muslims who blindly trust certificates are taken advantage of. Entrepreneurs cash on it, while some of those entrepreneurs are Muslims themselves.

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)

See also: Belgium: 60% of halal food 'impure'

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