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Representing Mr Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Dr Shuja Shafi, Chairman, Health and Medical Committee, MCB spoke……………

Assalam alai kum

Sir John Krebs, Dr Al-Dubayan, Respected Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The creation of the Food Standard Agency is 2000 came at a time when confidence in food and food safety was at a low ebb. In principle the aims and objectives of the new organisation seemed to address most, if not all, matters of concern. All eyes were on the Agency to see how it fares.

The unenviable task of setting up and leading the Agency was given to Sir John Krebs. A Fellow of the Royal Society, Fellow of the Medical Academy of Sciences, Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, Chief Executive of the Natural Environmental Research Council and a host of numerous other honours and offices, Sir John had to regain consumer confidence.

Five years on, Sir John is leaving the FSA in April to another high position to be the Principal of Jesus College Oxford. In these intervening years, has the organisation stood up to its stated aim of minimising risk to the community, building trust, being independent, promoting transparency in all its activities and above all being accountable?

As consumers, the Muslim community takes an enormous amount of interest in food standards and food safety.

Islam is a way of life and in it there is guidance for all aspects of life. Thus we also have dietary laws and the community is anxious to ensure that food that is consumed by Muslims conforms to the guidelines of our faith.

To this end we have had regular meetings with MAFF. With the advent of the FSA we were pleased to see this programme of engagement with the Muslim community continued.

One theme that has impressed me most during our deliberations at the Working Group is that in a vast majority of instances the requirements, principles of regulation and legislation for mainstream food standards are indeed the same as those given to us more than 1400 years ago. There are some aspects that need particular attention and that is what we concentrate on at the meetings of the Muslim Organisations Working Group meetings.

At our regular meeting, we discuss a wide number of issues:

Religious slaughter –is important to us, so yes, we discuss this at length at the Working Group meetings, but there are also other important issues such as:
Illegal Meat, scams such as chicken diluted with water, a host of other mislabelling issues etc

One theme that impressed me most is that in a vast majority of instances, the requirements, principles of regulations and legislation for mainstream food standards are indeed the same as those given to us >1400 years ago.

We are pleased to have the opportunity to discuss these issues, openly, comprehensively and enthusiastically. If David Statham and Shahien Zar like challenge, we provide it in abundance!

We now need to turn our efforts in solving these issues and I have no doubt that we will achieve this too in not too distant a future.

We hope your successor will continue to build on the foundation you have laid.

You want the FSA to connect with the community. You practised what you preach. It was very encouraging that you personally went around to convey important messages to the community – Your visit to the Islamic Cultural Centre to talk openly, and in a well measured manner about the risk of BSE in sheep and goats will remind us of how honestly you portrayed the situation.

We have seen the philosophy of your leadership and commend it to your successor.
May we take this opportunity to thank you for all your interest in aspects of the Muslim community? The consumer does truly regard you as their champion.

Our loss is Oxford University’s gain. Sir John, we wish you all the very best in your future endeavours.