So I asked the shop Manager - is your chicken halal? He assured me it was. Encouraged I started to order a chicken schnitzel sandwich. Then I thought - "why wouldn't he display a Certificate if his food is Halal?" So I asked - "is there any reason why you don't display a Halal Certificate?" The Manager started to get a little agitated and said - "Either you believe me or you don't. We have lots of Muslims who eat here. I don't have to display it - my customers know me and trust me!" Basically he was saying that if I don't trust him, I'm accusing him of being a liar. Fair enough I thought, I should be able to trust someone who is selling to so many Muslims in one of the busiest Muslim areas. My chicken sandwich was almost done and I paid for it.
Then I noticed that the meats were all frying on the same hard surface - "Is that bacon frying next to the chicken there?" I asked. "Oh, we keep them separate, there's a barrier between them, and we clean it regularly" they assured me. "But, the bacon is frying right next to the chicken - that means the chicken is cooking in the bacon fat!" I said. Did they think I was stupid or something? By now I had absolutely no faith in the "believe me" touch and walked up to the manager to tell him - "Listen, if your food is halal, you wouldn't cook it on the same hot plate with pork! You can keep your sandwich" and walked off.
This is just one of a number of recent issues in regards to halal food. I only buy my chicken reluctantly now, as so often the poor carcass is bruised - who knows what that poor chicken suffered as it was being killed? Does a Bismillah outweigh cruel and inhumane treatment? Who is overseeing these businesses? How do we know that the certificate on the wall is current? If the business changes hands, is there any oversight of the new owner? How often is the business checked? Only a few months ago I met with some friends in the halal butcher industry. They complained that the government highly regulates the halal export industry, but no one seems to care about the domestic halal industry, which in their opinion is often not halal at all.
"Unless our Muslim community starts to demand more accountability" they said "you really can't trust anything that claims to be halal".
Especially those who ask you to "Believe me" without any evidence or proof.