Halaal: Food ban ‘not illegal’

2012-08-22 00:00

A “STRONG argument” exists for owners of eateries that sell only halaal food to prohibit their employees from bringing non-halaal food into their shops.

This was the response of Pretoria labour law expert Len Dekker to a ruling by the KZN Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) that a KFC employee in Empangeni had been wrongfully dismissed for buying non-halaal food (putu and bean stew) elsewhere and bringing it into the KFC outlet to eat it there.

A few months ago the new owners of that particular KFC branch decided to sell only halaal food. Workers were told not to bring any non-halaal food on to the premises as it might contaminate the halaal food.

Jabulani Cele nevertheless took his putu and beans into the shop. He was refused admission to the workers’ canteen and subsequently dismissed. The CCMA found he should be reinstated.

Dekker said it is not that simple. “If the KFC owner concerned introduced the food rule for operational reasons — in other words, that he would lose his Muslim customers if it became known that the halaal food could become contaminated by non-halaal food — it was a valid rule introduced by the employer within the framework of our labour laws.”

According to the latest issue of Sandton law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s Labour Law Alert employers have every right to issue “lawful and reasonable instructions” to workers.

It said that in this case the rule of not bringing any non-halaal food into the shop seems very reasonable. The purpose of the rule is to protect the integrity of the halaal food. There is also no discrimination against non-Muslims, as all employees have to obey the same rule.

Several KFC franchises sell only halaal food.

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