Fruit processor caught in halal battle
A WIDE Bay-Burnett region fruit processor is among companies alleged to have been duped as a halal certification turf war heads to the courts.
The turf war has broken out between a Brisbane halal certifier and a former employee who has been accused of tricking food giants into buying certification from his similarly named company.
Brisbane's Australian Halal Food Services (AHFS), which certifies foods around Australia, has sued Australian Halal Food Services - Food Division, from Melbourne, in the Federal Court.
AHFS alleges the Melbourne company has breached its trademark for offering certification under the name AHFS and is "passing themselves off" as AHFS.
AHFS-Food Division is accused of "misleading" at least 15 companies in 2016 and 2017 including the Wide Bay food processor.
AHFS claims the food companies believed "they were dealing" with AHFS when they bought halal certification - a religious seal of approval - from AHFS-Food Division.
Other companies alleged to have been duped include sauce-makers Passage Foods and Flavour Makers, corn wholesaler Lachlan Commodities, infant milk formula maker Australian Dairy Park, Jaycroix Cheese, ice cream maker Harry and Larry's and dairy giant Murray Goulburn.
AHFS-Food Division is run by ex-AHFS employee Ali Chawk, from Sydenham in Melbourne's north-west, who quit working for AHFS two years ago, according to the claim filed in court on June 27.
AHFS director Mohamed Lotfi said he owned the trademark over AHFS and had licensed it to the company.
AHFS's website says it offers certification for meat as well as processed foods, flavours and cosmetics.
AHFS claims that its rival has "failed to desist ... despite written demands" to stop misleading customers into believing they are dealing with AHFS.
The case was listed for a brief hearing in the Federal Court last week before Justice Andrew Greenwood.