UP halal ban: Seized samples being taken to lab, per FSDA search teams
Following the ban on halal certification and certified products in the state 2 days ago, FSDA district teams have been conducting searches at markets and retail outlets
Units of the Food Safety and Drugs Authority (FSDA) in Uttar Pradesh continued to inspect and seize products across various location after the state government banned companies from issuing halal certification two days ago, on 21 November.
The Uttar Pradesh government's ban applies to the production, storage, distribution and sale of food products with halal certification as well. The exception is products intended for export.
While a statewide review has been scheduled for today, 23 November, district administration have continued their searches across retail outlets and restaurants. It is reported that the FSDA team seized samples to send for lab testing as well.
In Lucknow, the FSDA team seized material worth over Rs 26,000 from four places.
Likewise, the FSDA team in Prayagraj (formerly Allahabad) also inspected 95 outlets over the past two days, seizing samples worth Rs 6,500 that were sent to a lab. The products taken in included baking soda, cocoa powder, ready-to-eat food items like vegetable burger patties and vegetable momos, and some confectionery.
In Gorakhpur, food items worth Rs 40,000 were seized from different places in the city market. The FSDA teams collected samples of noodles, toffees, coffee, brown sugar and edible curry mixes.
In Ayodhya, a team collected samples of packed spices from the market in the main city.
Similar raids have been conducted in over two dozen districts, including Kanpur, Ayodhya, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Sitapur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Gorakhpur, Etawah, Auraiyya and Rae Bareli.
Drug inspectors also led the teams in some central districts and scanned medical stores, where they seized materials like herbal tea and health juices.
In some places, however, no halal-branded material was found. In Kanpur, the teams searched 19 places but returned empty-handed.
Purportedly, the ban has been put in place to address the fact that halal certification is a "parallel system that created confusion about the quality of food items".
The action was initiated after a BJP youth wing member lodged an FIR in Lucknow on Saturday, 18 November, against three companies (based in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, respectively) for issuing 'illegal' halal certification. The case was lodged under sections of the law pertaining to criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity and cheating.
The FIR spoke of 'unidentified manufacturing companies and their owners, people part of an anti-national conspiracy, and people funding terror outfits'. The complaint also claimed that 'some companies have started certifying products as halal to increase their sale among a community' and that they were 'toying with the public’s faith' and that 'financial gains from the activity are being used to fund terror outfits'.
In its order, the state said, 'The right to decide the quality of food items lies only with the authorities and institutions given in Sections 29 of the [Food Law Food Safety and Standards Act], who check the relevant standards as per the provisions of the Act.' The government has also spoken of 'unrestrained propaganda' that discourages members of certain communities from using non-halal certified products.
India has no national or state agencies for regulating halal certifications specifically, however. Such certifications are issued by third-party agencies such as the ones named in the FIR, and are recognised by various official watchdogs in foreign nations to which Indian products might be exported, such as the UAE's ministry of industry and advanced technology, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, Malaysia's department of Islamic development and Qatar's ministry of public health.
With inputs from IANS