HMC eateries in London (2007-2013)

[This report is part of the London (UloomLon) Project which is an initiative to review resources available in Greater London for Muslims. This report is released under the creative common licence with added stipulations mentioned in the sharing policySaif]

This report is aimed at reviewing halal eateries (restaurants and takeaways) in Greater London which are monitored by an independent body. The primary focus is on the reliability of independent outlets selling cooked food to the consumers directly. At present monitoring of such outlets in London is done predominantly by the Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC). The outlets are highlighted in the map above and the current list in the inspectorate’s sites.1

Monitoring Halal

In London there are three strategies adopted in monitoring halal eateries; (1) self, (2) supplier, and (3) vendor regulation.

(1) The first strategy is self-regulation in which the eatery declares itself halal or presents a certificate of halal from its supplier. This method relies on the consumer’s personal judgment and is criticised for having a self-serving bias. (2) The second strategy is the regulation of the primary sector (abattoirs) or secondary sector (butchers) whilst binding the tertiary sector (eateries) to one of these regulated suppliers. In this method the first two sectors are inspected but it trusts the eatery to regulate itself in not buying from elsewhere. This method is viable for centralised large franchises with a single supplier but is problematic for medium to small firms as it suffers from the similar impediments of the first strategy. (3) The third strategy is the independent inspection of the eateries itself. This method is robust but is time consuming, costly and requires inspection of all three sectors simultaneously.

In terms of eateries, the vast majority in Greater London adopt the first strategy of self-certification in which the vendors rely on their own personal reputation and local standing. This is difficult to quantify and harder to discern for those not of the locality as such it will not be covered in this report at present2.

As for regulation by an independent body, there are predominantly two main organisations operating in Greater London; HFA (Halal Food Authority) and HMC (Halal Monitoring Committee)3. It is beyond the scope of this report to discuss the criteria for halal or the efficacy of the methods used by these organisations4. Suffice it to say that HFA uses the second strategy and does not certify eateries in London except for one corporate franchise which is relatively static. As such not subject to this review.

HMC uses the third strategy and monitors on a store by store basis irrespective of franchise. Due to the current nature of the market and the size of the business, the eateries are volatile and quick to change policies, suppliers, or even have multiple suppliers. This in turn requires regular review and frequent checks of the premises which is a forte of HMC5.

The spread

HMC was established in 2003 with its primary base in Leicester. In London, eateries were first certified between 2006- 2007 with there being 22 inspected eateries in May 2007; 7 in Newham, 7 in Whitechapel, 3 in Waltham Forest, 3 in Wandsworth, 1 in Hackney and 1 in Lambeth. Since then it has spread throughout London especially in areas with a large Muslim population understandably. Hence, 62% of eateries in 2013 (avg. 64% throughout the years) are in the four most Muslim populated boroughs in East London6; Newham has 49 (30%), Tower Hamlet has 23 (14%), Redbridge has 17 (10%) and Waltham Forest has 12 (7%). The proportion has remained similar throughout. Wandsworth, Hackney, and Ealing also have a sizable number with 10 (6%), 9 (5.5%) and 8 (4.9%) respectively.

In the southwest, most of the eateries are in Tooting road (SW17) and London Road (SW16) which interlink and connect the borders of Wandsworth, Lambeth, and Croydon. In Newham, although scattered throughout most can be found in the parallel roads that are Upton Lane, Green Street, Katherine Road, and High Street North as well as the roads that run through these namely Plashet Grove and Romford Road. Similarly, In Tower Hamlet, there is a concentration of HMC certified Eateries around East London and Brick Lane Mosque. In Redbridge, in addition to Goodmayes Road, the A123 stretch which goes from Gants Hill through Cranbrook Road to Ilford Lane has rows of HMC certified eateries. In Waltham Forest, most are on the long stretch of Leyton High Road which connects to Hoe Street via Leabridge Road. See the map above for the other small clusters.

There is no significant difference between the proportional representation of the boroughs between the years rather the year on year growth is strongly correlated albeit northwest London did not have a sizable amount of eateries until 2010. Most regions of London since 2010 are growing at an equal rate according to their respective sizes.

The growth

Currently, there are 164 eateries in Greater London which are inspected by HMC. There has been growth overall between the years with an increase of 15, 12, 33, 31, 32 and 19 eateries respectively. However, retention is a concern. Although the number of new eateries since 2010 has been above 40 each year, proportionally it has declined. Conversely, the decline of eateries has remained proportionally steady at 19 percent since 2010 which translates into steadily increased decline but stagnant proportional growth.

130508001_HMC_Eateries_in_London_2007_2013

The reason for removal from the list by HMC can be many. In the current economic climate, the risk of a new business (especially eateries) collapsing is high and eateries are deemed a luxury. Amongst current eateries being inspected 42% have been with the organisation for less than two years. This is, in fact, the case for many which had been listed in the dataset as they are longer in operation. HMC does not state the reason for the removal of an eatery in its site. Such as whether or not the vendor opted out if they were removed due to an infringement, non-payment of membership dues, change in management, or closure of business. Nevertheless, it still a growing organisation and has gained some traction in the last few years. It covers all regions except for the south-east of London.

It should be noted that the data is recorded of those eateries that were listed on the 5th of May of each of the years; those that may have been certified or removed in between were not included.

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Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
24 Jumada II 1434
6 May 2013

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1. The current site since 2012 is http://www.halalhmc.org. Before 2012, the site was in http://www.halalmc.net

1. Some local masajid or institutions may maintain their own register and reviews of the eateries of their respective localities. Although the criteria for halal and efficacy may differ between these independent local registers, it nonetheless may provide evaluation of those who opted not to be voluntarily regulated by an organisation.

3. Lever, J, Bellacasa, M. P, Mielle, M, & Higgin, M. (2010) From the Slaughterhouse to the Consumer: Transparency and Information in the Distribution of Halal and Kosher Meat. Dialrel Reports No. 4.3.. Cardiff; University of Cardiff. p. 18. Available online at http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/cplan/sites/default/files/Dialrel_report_43.pdf

4. Amongst few points of contention, there is a significant debate between HFA and HMC over permitting stunned chickens which the former approves and latter disapproves. See their respective sites for their current policies.

5. Nawhami, MSR (2013, Feb 23) Ml. Dudhwala [current chairman of HMC]: 250 people are employed by #HMC who try to check 4 times a week [Twitter post]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Nawhami/status/305421900878839808

6. Nawhami, MSR (2013) Muslims in London, March 2011. The Nawhami Bulletin. Uloom. Report: 130508501 Available online http://nawhami.com/bulletin/130508501

[Cite key: 130506501]