ASSALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAH Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
Amsterdam, March 2006 - The Muslim community in Europe is an estimated 15 million (3% of the European population) and was the impetus behind the 2nd International Halal Food Conference, March 2006, in Amsterdam. Organized by The Islamic Food Council Of Europe, the theme was Halal Certification On Global Trade. The conference featured guest speakers from several Muslim countries and Europe, and included IFANCA representatives. Under review were important issues such as import regulations, Halal certification programs and how they benefit domestic and international markets in a global environment. The conference was tailored for food industry professionals, academicians, students, government agencies and exporters.
IFANCA IN KUALA LUMPUR, MAY 2006
Kuala Lumpur, May 2006 - Dr. Mohamed Sadek, Vice President, IFANCA will be speaking at the World Halal Forum 2006, May 8-10 in Malaysia. Attendees will include food manufacturers and processors, government agencies, Islamic financial service providers, certifying bodies and NGO's, supermarket and restaurant chains, logistics providers, farmers, livestock producers, abattoirs, importers and exporters, agents and packaging, marketing and advertising agencies. The Keynote Speaker, Datuk Seri Hj. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Prime Minister of Malaysia and chairman of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), will present his vision for the role of the Halal industry in Malaysia and the OIC nations.
The objectives of the conference will be:
Developing the global Halal market
Understanding and resolving challenges faced by the Halal industry
Addressing the need for industry standards for Halal on a global scale
Creating a networking event to facilitate trade between the different players in the global Halal market
We often forget to do the math. Amount Per Serving refers to the number of nutrients and calories for each serving of food. People often just look at the calorie and nutrient information without paying attention to the total number of servings per container. In this example, each serving comprises 2 crackers. Amount Per Serving is 60 calories per serving. The whole container actually contains 21 servings and if you ate the whole container, you’d be consuming not 60 calories but 1260 calories!
IFANCA SPONSORS FIVE $1,000 SCHOLARSHIPS FOR MUSLIM STUDENTS
The IFANCA sponsored Chicagoland Muslim Scholarship Fund (CMSF) provides scholarships at the undergraduate level. Awards are based on merit, financial need, character, and involvement in the Islamic Community.
In 2005, over 100 applications were received for five $1,000 scholarships. The scholarship winners are extremely successful students who are very involved within their communities:
Hakeemah Cummings – University of Chicago Lina El-Beshbeeshy – University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Ammar Haq – Elmhurst College Yasmeen Khan – Northwestern University Farah Meah – Benedictine University
Check for application deadlines for the year 2006-2007 at www.chicagomsf.org. If you would like to contribute to the scholarships, please send a check with your tax-deductible donation to the following address:
Chicagoland Muslim Scholarship Fund 5901 N. Cicero, Suite 309 Chicago, IL 60646
IFANCA OPERATED SABEEL FOOD PANTRY BOON TO THE AREA
The IFANCA operated Sabeel Food Pantry, at 3031 W. Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60618 operates from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. every Monday. Individuals of all backgrounds and faiths can stop by during those hours to replenish their kitchens. Donors can also bring canned goods and unopened, unused, unexpired, nonperishable food items during those times. Especially needed items include ready-to-eat meals, cereal, cans of tuna, cooking oil, fruit cans or fruit cups.
If you’re unable to drop off the items when the pantry is open please email email@example.com to arrange for either a pick up or drop-off. All donations are tax-deductible.
The pantry is looking for volunteers as well as volunteer centers that can serve as points of distribution for the collected food items. Any interested establishment, including organizations, churches, schools and synagogues, can enlist as a point of distribution.
By Zeshan Sadek, MBBS & Saad Asrar, MS Food Science
If you follow health trends, research has proven that Omega-3 does wonders for your health. Studies link it to better memory and concentration, fighting depression and anxiety, stimulating brain development even before birth and in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Research by doctors in Denmark have seen fish oils help in the treatment of type 2 Diabetes as they lower the amount of fats present in the blood.
The current interest in the use of fish oils has its origins in the Greenland Eskimos diet. Heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and psoriasis were found to be relatively low amongst the Greenland Eskimos. Their staple foods consist mainly of seal meat, seal fat and seasonal fish products.
Why It's Good For You
Omega-3’s are an essential fatty acid (EFA). Because they can’t be produced by the body they must be supplied by the diet. EFA’s are unsaturated fatty acids and like all fats they provide energy, but are also vital for normal growth, promoting good health and preventing sickness. EFA’s also help increase fluidity of cell membranes, keeping toxins out and bringing nutrients into cells. They reduce inflammation and keep blood from clotting by keeping the blood vessels dilated. Omega-3 specifically helps treat Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthristis, the latter being a painful condition where the cartilage between joints gets worn out due to wear and tear. Asthma, Psoriasis and Eczema are other ailments where Omega-3 can come to the rescue.
Good Fats, Bad Fats
Fish oils are 'good fats’ and contain Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The fatty acid contents of fish oil depend upon the species, season, temperature, fresh or salt water and the fish’s gender. The female, with its roe (eggs), is a much richer source of fatty acids than the male. Cold-water fish are the richest sources of DHA and EPA, for example, anchovies from the Antarctica. The same is true of sardines. Making fish a meal three times a week is an excellent way to increase ones Omega-3 fatty acid intake. Besides, fish is also an excellent source of protein. Some good choices include Mackerel, Lake Trout, Herring, Sardines, Albacore Tuna and Salmon.
If eating fish is not for you, then, fish oil capsules can come to the rescue. Vegetable based Omega-3 capsules are a viable alternative too. Before taking any supplements, however, do ask a doctor especially if you are on prescription drugs or aspirin. There are many brands of Halal certified capsules available in the market.
Most soft gel capsules that are commercially available are made of pork gelatin or mixed gelatin. IFANCA Halal certified Omega-3 softgels are directly marketed by:
Pharmanex Marine Omega Softgel Capsules Opti Omega EPA & DHA Fish Oils
Access Business Group Omega-3 Complex (90 Softgels) Salmon Omega - 3 (90 Softgels)
Ocean Nutrition Canada Omega-3 DHA Powder (Microencapsulated DHA Fish Oil) Omega-3 Powder (Microencapsulated Fish Oil)
Westar Nutrition Corp. / Viva Life Science, Inc. Viva Marine Omega-3 (60 Softgels) Viva Marine Oil (30 Softgels)
Flaxseed oil is the richest source of the Omega-3 fatty acid, Alpha-Linoleic Acid, at roughly 57%. It can be used daily, must be refrigerated and consumed within 3 months. Health food stores normally carry it as a liquid or soft gelatin capsule.
Flaxseed oil is a rich source of essential fatty acids; it has fiber and lignans. Flaxseed is also available whole, or milled for use in breads or to be sprinkled on salads and cereals.
Difference Between Fish Oils And Flaxseed Oils
For starters, flaxseed oil is less expensive than fish oils. Flaxseed contains Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA), which is a parent compound from which other Omega-3 fatty acids are derived. This is then converted in the body into other forms such as EPA and DHA. The problem is that this type of conversion is not always efficient. Fish oil, however, delivers the EPA and DHA directly to the body with no conversion necessary. Walnuts are also another excellent source of Omega 3.
Fish, despite all their benefits, are not recommended for women who are pregnant or nursing because of the high levels of mercury contamination in some. Mercury is toxic to the developing human fetal brain and if exposed, could cause learning deficiencies and delay mental development in the child. The FDA, however, has refused to adopt a National Academy of Sciences recommendation that suggests tightening of safety standards for mercury levels in fish.
There are thousands of flavors used in different types of food industries such as beverage, dairy and bakery industries. Flavors are available in dry, liquid or emulsion forms. According to FDA (2002), flavors and flavorings are some of the most complex ingredients used in the food industry, but individual components of a flavor need not to be declared to customers. A flavor can contain any number of ingredients from a single one as in salt or pepper, to many as in reaction flavors or complex mixtures.
There may be hidden alcohol or ingredients of Haram animal origin, such as civet oil, in the formulations. Civet oil is oil extracted from the glands of a cat-like animal called a civet. Civet oil is not accepted as Halal (Riaz and Chaudry 2004). There might be single and compound ingredients used in each flavor.
According to Prof. Gary Reineccius at the department of food science and nutrition, University of Minnesota, natural and artificial flavors are defined for the consumer in the Code of Federal Regulations. A key line from this definition is the following: "… a natural flavor is the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional." Artificial flavors are those that are made from components that do not meet this definition. The flavor chemists use "natural" chemicals to make natural flavorings and "synthetic" chemicals to make artificial flavorings. The flavor chemists creating an artificial flavoring must use similar chemicals in his formulation as would be used to make a natural flavoring; otherwise, the flavoring will not have the desired characteristics.
The federal Food and Drug Administration does not require companies to disclose the ingredients of their flavor additives as long as all the chemicals in them are considered GRAS ("generally recognized as safe"). This enables companies to maintain the secrecy of their formulas, such as Cola’s secret formula or Colonel Sander’s secret recipe. It also hides numerous ingredients in order to keep the label simple. For the past twenty years food processors have tried hard to use only "natural flavors" in their products. According to the FDA, these must be derived entirely from natural sources -- from herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, beef, chicken, yeast, bark, roots, and so forth. Consumers prefer to see natural flavors on a label, believing that they are more healthful. Distinctions between artificial and natural flavors can be arbitrary and confusing, based more on how the flavor has been made than on what it actually contains. Natural flavors and artificial flavors sometimes contain exactly the same chemicals, produced through different methods. Amyl acetate, for example, provides the dominant note of banana flavor. When it is distilled from bananas with a solvent, amyl acetate is a natural flavor. When it is produced by mixing vinegar with amyl alcohol and adding sulfuric acid as a catalyst, amyl acetate is an artificial flavor. Either way it smells and tastes the same. A natural flavor is not necessarily more healthful or purer than an artificial one. When almond flavor -- benzaldehyde -- is derived from natural sources, such as peach and apricot pits, it contains traces of hydrogen cyanide, a deadly poison. Benzaldehyde derived by mixing oil of clove and amyl acetate does not contain any cyanide. Nevertheless, it is legally considered an artificial flavor and sells at a much lower price. Natural and artificial flavors may be manufactured at the same chemical plants, places that few people would associate with Mother Nature. Predicting future trends in food flavors is becoming ever more crucial as consumers become more experimental in their tastes. The fact that the U.S. is more experimental in trying new flavors than other regions of the world is reflected in the fact that, in 2004, the highest proportion of ethnic flavor claims made by manufacturers in savory food new product development was among U.S. launches (12.6% of newly launched savory food SKUs, compared to an average of 10.7% for the rest of the world). (Nosalik 2005).
Natural and artificial flavors in bakery products are the most important ingredients for Muslim consumers. The makeup of flavoring material must be plant-based (no meat). Petroleum-based propylene glycol is considered a Halal solvent for flavoring (Ahmed 2003).
Alcohol: When we talk about alcohol in the Halal industry, it is means either ethanol or ethyl alcohol. It is permissible to use alcohol for extracting flavors or dissolving them. However, the amount of alcohol should be reduced to less than 0.5% in the final flavoring product. Certain countries or customers require lower allowances or even absence of alcohol for products brought into their countries. Some countries do not permit fusel oil derivatives. Note that vinegar, although a by-product or derivative of alcohol, is permitted in Islam. However, it is prudent to avoid the words "wine vinegar" in the label statements in order not to create confusion. IFANCA has consulted various Islamic scholars to check this critical issue about vanilla flavorings as it may contain alcohol. The word Khamr is traditionally used for fermented beverages which are intoxicants. Alcohol used in the manufacture of vanilla flavor is ethanol from grain or synthetic sources and never from alcoholic drinks or Khamr sources (Khattak, 2004).
Dairy Ingredients: Dairy ingredients are derived from processes that use either microbial enzymes or Halal-certified animal enzymes. Ingredients such as whey powder, lactose, whey protein isolates, and concentrates produced with the use of enzymes are questionable if the source of the enzymes is unknown.
Meat Flavors: Meat and poultry ingredients should be from animals slaughtered according to Halal requirements. The flavor manufacturers use certain quantity of meat or poultry products in order to produce the specific meaty flavors. The flavor manufacturers keep the records of animal byproducts which are used in the flavors. These flavors can be certified Halal if the flavor manufacturer is able to provide detailed information to the Halal certifier. When a flavor company applies for the Halal certification for a particular flavor they must provide with the Islamic Slaughter Certificate.
Smoke Flavors and Grill Flavors: Smoke flavor has been used for thousands of years to enhance and modify the flavor of foods as well as to preserve meats. Halal concerns include the use of animal fats as a base for smoke and grill flavors or the use of emulsifiers from animal sources. The smoke flavor of bacon is commonly used in the flavor industry.
Some Useful Definitions: Flavor - A product that gives taste or enhances flavor in an existing product. Other than flavor oils, essences and botanicals, it may contain water, propylene glycol, alcohol, etc.
W.O.N.F. - A natural flavor that has been enhanced "with other natural flavors".
Artificial - Denotes a product whose components are derived from synthetic process.
Natural and Artificial - A blend that combines both synthetic and natural products.
Natural - A product in which all components come from natural sources. Also W.O.N.F.
Conclusion: IFANCA is currently certifying major flavor manufacturing companies such as Firmenich Inc., International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF), Danisco, Bell Flavors and Fragrances, Symrise, Givaudan Flavors, David Michael & Co., Quest International, Sensient Flavors, T. Hasegawa, Wild Flavors, Otten Flavors, Red Arrow Products, Silesia Flavors, and Virginia Dare Extract Company. This list keeps increasing as the awareness of Halal becomes important in the flavor industry.
IFANCA approves flavors on the basis of detailed description provided by the client companies. The complete breakdown of the complex flavors is submitted in order to get the approval. IFANCA makes sure that there is no questionable ingredient in the flavor. Flavor Industry continues to develop variety of flavors which undergo a thorough review process by the food scientists at IFANCA.
A chocoholic are you? There’s no need to be guilt-ridden if you love dark chocolate – with no milk. The old adage, "The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice," seems to be true of dark chocolate as related to antioxidants. The darker the chocolate, the better it is healthwise. In fact, present dark chocolate to friends and family and you will, most likely, be doing them a favor.
Dark chocolate often contains a variety of ingredients from natural & artificial flavors to preservatives, textural based chemicals, and of most benefit, cocoa. Cocoa beans contain heart-healthy natural antioxidants called flavonoids which are also present in blueberries, raspberries, broccoli, cranberries, spinach, green tea and figs. Flavonoids are known to reduce blood pressure. Recent studies indicate flavonoids protect the heart from the effects of unstable oxygen compounds called free radicals that can damage blood vessels(1). Dark chocolate also inhibits platelet aggregation which could cause a heart attack or stroke. Cocoa flavonoids relax and dilate the blood vessels that inhibit an enzyme that causes inflammation. By dilating the blood vessels, flavanoids help keep the blood flowing to the heart. Flavonoids, and its subgroup catechins, are found in dark chocolate at four times the amount found in green tea (1). Dark chocolate contains 53.5 mg. of catechins per 100 g. of chocolate; milk chocolate contains 15.9 mg./100 g., and black tea contains 13.9 mg. per 100 ml. of tea, according to researchers (2). European dark chocolates are richer in cocoa phenols than their American cousins (4).
It is important, however, to be keenly mindful of the caloric intake. Moderation is key. One should consume low calorie foods such as fruits supplemented only occasionally by dark chocolate to get the heart benefits of the cocoa based antioxidants. But remember – don’t wash down the dark chocolate with a glass of milk. European researchers found that eating milk chocolate did not raise antioxidant levels in the bloodstream (3). The same held true among patients who drank milk while eating dark chocolate. The results suggest that milk and other dairy products somehow reduce the body's ability to absorb the protective compounds in chocolate (3).
Did you know the US Army serves Halal rations and universities in the US have explored how they could offer students Halal meals? Paving the path towards these realities, is J & M Food Products, an IFANCA certified company.
Mary Anne Jackson, President, J & M Food Products, was already in the food business when she decided to expand into the Halal foods market in the early 1990’s. She started making fully prepared, Halal ready-to-eat meals that were shelf-stable and in two versions of packaging. They continue to be available. The 8 oz foil pouches have a five- year shelf-life from date of manufacture while the 10 oz microwaveable / heatable-in-water individual plastic trays have a two-year shelf-life from date of manufacture. "We created the children's meals market starting in 1986. We look at niches and build on them. This is another niche," she says of her decision to produce Halal meals.
Why did Ms. Jackson choose IFANCA to get J & M Food Products certified especially when there are other Halal Certification Organizations?
"I’d met with various agencies including ICNA and the American Muslim Council. Dr. Chaudry was very committed that a proper Halal certification program be implemented. He was a natural choice," says Ms. Jackson.
How different is Kosher from Halal?
The only true similarities between Kosher and Halal lie in the fact that pork is not permitted under either religion, Ms. Jackson points out. "Until Muslim consumers learn that Halal and Kosher laws of slaughter actually differ, and are not similar enough to substitute each other, the Halal meat prepared-meals and raw meat markets will not grow much," she says. "Muslim consumers must actually demand and seek out properly certified Halal food products to the exclusion of others."
"Why would a Muslim believe that Kosher slaughter will meet the requirements of Halal?" she asks. "The problem here is that the Kosher suppliers and Kosher certifying agencies are making concentrated and successful efforts to promote and define "Kosher" as a "Halal substitute" and consumers fall for it. As a result, the Halal market's growth is limited by Muslim consumers themselves and by the competitor’s strong and successful marketing. While the Kosher consumer market is declining for Jews, it is growing amongst Muslims and others who believe in the marketing tactics of Kosher suppliers."
Further, "consumers pay a premium for the back half of the slaughtered animals, which the Kosher community considers non-Kosher. Since a ready Halal market exists, Kosher suppliers can maximize profit selling animal hind quarters as Halal or Halal substitute, depending upon the Halal certifying agency's interpretation of Halal."
As you know IFANCA does not endorse, accept or approve Kosher meat as Halal. What can it do to protect Halal territory?
"The demand for Kosher foods is driven by the Kosher certifying organizations and Kosher suppliers, not by the 10% of the 5 million Jews in the USA who keep Kosher. So, either consumers must aggressively demand certification, or certifying agencies must organize together to publicize the need and benefits of Halal certification to both non-Muslims and Muslims." She adds that IFANCA alone cannot make a dent in the problem. This is especially true when other major Halal certifiers put the Halal stamp of approval on Kosher meat and sometimes even non-Kosher meat.
How did J&M Food Products get into Halal Foods?
J & M Food Products' first big customer for Halal foods was the US Military even though less than half of one percent of the US military is Muslim. "During military meetings and discussions with Muslims and Jews (we learned that) the Military thought Kosher would be good enough. We convinced them (that) we had to keep them separate," says Ms. Jackson. That’s what started the ball rolling.
Ms. Jackson, under the banner of J & M Food Products, created the first ever Halal military ration (MRE) and convinced the military to put it into the system. The military bid the contract for Halal rations out publicly and J & M Food Products has won it, as the sole supplier, every year since 1996.
"At first, these were vegetarian meals dual certified as Kosher and Halal but then as the demand grew, meat was added to the menu. Today, they have 12 varieties, including meals comprising lamb, beef, chicken and cheese. All the pouches for the military and limited other customers are labeled in Arabic and English." The company does supply to militaries of other nations too.
Where can we purchase J&M Food Products in the retail market?
"We do not sell raw Halal meat, only fully prepared, fully certified shelf-stable meals," says Ms. Jackson. "Right now, we only sell via internet, and through institutions, such as universities. We helped create a Halal meal program at Northwestern University. We sell through specialty stores. Most of our stores call in orders and we ship via UPS. "
Do you have any advice on how Muslims can effectively band together and demand more Halal meat in non-ethnic grocery stores?
"Yes. First, you need a watch dog group - some independent organization or magazine that watches for mislabeling. Without policing, it is worthless since anyone today can label something 'Halal' and usually get away with it. The Jews have "Kashrus" Magazine. It publishes the names of all the violators of labeling. You cannot stop there. You and the Halal certifying organization's name on the package must pursue the violator and demand a recall for improper labeling. Use the state laws to help. Laws in certain states like Illinois help but only if the community does its monitoring. Next, these same magazines and others must educate Muslim consumers about what Halal is and is not and describe why one needs to choose Halal food. Finally, I, in collaboration with IFANCA, have written an easy-to-read book on this subject, for producers. Producers should follow a common standard. Anyone can request a free copy."
The Food Guide Pyramid is one way for people to understand how to eat healthy. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) changed the pyramid in spring 2005. The vertical stripes represent the five food groups: grains, veggies, fruits, fats and oils, dairy and meat, beans, fish and nuts.
The agency also created a version for kids. The children’s version has the girl walking up the stairs which shows how important playing and exercise is. The steps are also another way to say that we can make healthy changes one step at a time.
Make it Yours. The USDA's MyPyramid website also allows you to get personalized recommendations about the variety of food you need and how much you should eat.