Muslim leader says halal meat contamination is 'very disturbing'

Monday 04 February 2013 23.18
Dr Ali Saleem said it would be 'catastrophic' for a Muslim to consume pork
Dr Ali Saleem said it would be 'catastrophic' for a Muslim to consume pork

A leader of Ireland's Muslim community has said it is "very disturbing" that traces of pork were found in halal meat from a Co Tyrone processing plant.

Dr Ali Saleem of the Islamic Cultural Centre told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that this was a clear breach of Islamic law and it would be "catastrophic" for a Muslim to consume pork.

"For a Muslim, it is equivalent to taking drugs, it is very much forbidden," Dr Saleem said.

He said that Irish beef had a wonderful reputation among Muslims in Britain and Ireland.

Dr Saleem said: "I believe that this is going to be a strong hit on the Irish beef product."

He said Irish beef would have to be tested again by the Muslim community's own agencies that monitor the halal process.

In the UK, the Food Standards Agency is to meet food retailers and suppliers today, after traces of pork DNA was found in halal-certified prison food.

The FSA ordered the meeting last week after a spate of mislabelled or contaminated food products reached the public.

McColgan Quality Foods of Strabane, Co Tyrone, was identified as the supplier of the product to a wholesale distributor, which supplied contaminated beef pies to UK prisons.

The British wholesaler 3663 confirmed that all halal products from the manufacturer have been withdrawn from supply.

Ahead of today's meeting, British food industry consultant Dr Slim Dinsdale said he was confident the issue of contamination would be dealt with thoroughly.

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee chairman Anne McIntosh has raised concerns that the recent cases could be just the tip of the iceberg and has questioned whether the FSA is fit for purpose.

The FSA is investigating how far contaminated products have been distributed.

FSA director Steve Wearne said it called the meeting "of a range of suppliers" today to "stress again the responsibility of all food businesses to ensure the food that they sell contains what it says on the label".

An FSA spokeswoman said: "People have a right to expect that the food they are eating is correctly described.

"It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the food they sell contains what it says on the label.

"We are considering, with relevant local authorities, whether legal action is appropriate following the investigation."