Cape Town – Staff at a food company that caters for the national airline claim their food is not halaal.
Employees at Air Chefs, based at the Cape Town International Airport, allege that the kitchen where the halaal food is prepared is being contaminated with pork by negligent co-workers.
Three staff members, who don’t want to be named, they have notified management that non-halaal meats and utensils were being used in the halaal kitchen.
Air Chefs is a division of South African Airlines and caters for the airline, as well as SA Express and all SAA corporate functions, according to the employees.
One staffer says she’d had enough and decided to spill the beans as passengers needed to know what is happening with their food.
“I swear nothing in this kitchen is halaal,” she says, referring to the halaal kitchen.
“It is not right. I am a Christian and it is not fair for this to go on. Ek is nou jammer om dit so te stel, but hulle loop met daai bain maries met varke net so deur die halaal kombuis en plak die goed enige plek neer. (I am so sorry for putting it like this, but they put pork in the bain maries, walk through the halaal kitchen and then leave it there.)
“The company has strict rules about this, but the process is not followed.”
The workers reported the matter to the Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust, which certifies Air Chefs, but say the inspectors were misled.
“On Monday the MJC was here after we called them, toe is alles reg en op sy plek (but then everyrhing was in its place), but this place is foul,” said another concerned worker.
The MJCHT confirmed it performed an on-site inspection as soon as it received the complaint.
Sheikh Moosa Titus, COO of the MJCHT, tells the Daily Voice: “On completion of his inspection, our halaal inspector returned to our offices, submitted a report and advised that all the protocols pertaining to the Halaal and Food Safety Standards were in compliance.
“MJC Halaal Trust management subsequently had a meeting with the manager of Air Chefs to further verify the facts of the matter for further clarification and the manager advised us that she is not aware of any discrepancies and explained that she is working for Air Chefs for the last 15 years and.
“She had an in-depth understanding of the halaal requirements and will not compromise on halaal protocols and added that there are internal changes taking place in terms of the company structure to escalate the business operation to a higher level.”
He adds: “Based on our findings, the MJCHT confirms halaal compliance of Air Chefs Halaal Certified Kitchen in Cape Town.”
SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali says they’re aware of the allegations and the MJC inspection, and believes the workers acted in bad faith.
“From the report of the MJC Area Manager the facility was found compliant to halaal requirements. There were no food-related or halaal processes being violated. The anonymous callers contacted the MJC once more insisting that there were irregularities and that if the MJC failed to take steps against Air Chefs, they would approach the media,” says Tlali.
“The Chief Operating Officer of MJC, Sheikh Moosa Titus went to Air Chefs and met with our Head of Department at that facility, Ms Sipokazi Pupuma, to conduct a further audit on Wednesday and satisfied himself that all halaal processes stipulated were complied with.
“The claims are baseless and malicious and appear to be the work of a handful disgruntled employees who wish to bring the name of the company into disrepute.”