Halal turf war goes to Federal Court
A TURF war has broken out between a Brisbane-based halal certifier and a former employee who has been accused of tricking food giants into buying certification from his similarly-named company.
Brisbane based 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 are "passing themselves off" as AHFS.
AHFS-Food Division is accused of "misleading" at least 15 companies in 2016 and 2017 including dairy giant Murray Goulburn - which sells milk, butter and cheese - as well as the company behind Saxa salt, Gravox and Fountain sauces.
AHFS claims the food companies believed "they were dealing" with AHFS at the time they purchased their halal certification - a religious seal of approval - from AHFS-Food Division.
Other companies alleged to have been duped include sauce-maker's 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 a fruit processor from the Wide Bay - Burnett region.
AHFS-Food Division is run by ex-AHFS employee Ali Chawk, from Sydenham in Melbourne's northwest, 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 has licensed it to the company.
AHFS's website says it offers certification for meat as well as processed foods, flavours and cosmetics.
It sponsors the As-Salaam Institute of Islamic Studies, based in Eight Mile Plains.
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 is listed for a brief hearing in the Federal Court today before Justice Andrew Greenwood.