JOHANNESBURG, South African Airways (SAA) has re-assured its Muslim customers that it maintains the the highest halal requirements and standards in food preparation.

SAA's Muslim customers can be assured that AirChefs, the catering subsidiary of the airline, is compliant with the stringent Halal requirements as stated and governed by the governing body, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), and is also regarded as one of the oldest, most representative and most influential religious organizations in South Africa, said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali,

The airline's response on this matter follows the publication of a newspaper report where anonymous persons made unsubstantiated claims of non-compliance.

The claims made are baseless and malicious and appear to be the works of a handful of disgruntled employees who wish to bring the name of AirChefs and by extension, SAA, into disrepute," said Tlali.

Nevertheless, the newspaper proceeded to publish a sensational report under a misleading and harmful headline, based on a mere say-so of its sources without attaching weight to the countervailing evidence to the claims made. The MJC is a highly respected body in the Muslim community and the story published casts aspersions on their independence and integrity.

The national flag carrier said a site inspection last month found it to be compliant to Halal requirements.

From the report of the MJC Area Manager there were no food-related or Halal processes being violated. We are in possession of the audit report to this effect.

However, the anonymous callers contacted the MJC again and insisted that there were irregularities and that if the MJC failed to take steps against AirChefs, they would approach the media.

The Chief Operating Officer of MJC, Sheikh Moosa Titus, went to AirChefs to conduct a further audit and satisfied himself that all Halal processes stipulated were complied with, said the airline.

The AirChefs kitchen in Cape Town is Halal.