May 31, 2012 — “A Farm to Fridge Journey into the World of Halal: Expanding Opportunities for the Food and Nutrition Professional” was a webinar hosted by Muslims in Dietetics and Nutrition (MIDAN), a Member Interest Group (MIG) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. MIDAN aims to reduce disparities in healthcare services received by Muslim patients by providing a forum in which food and nutrition professionals can network and develop professionally. MIDAN also strives to increase diversity within the dietetics profession by promoting the field as a career choice within the Muslim community and by providing mentorship for students and new dieticians. The Webinar was sponsored by IFANCA.

Speakers included Roberta Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS who spoke on the needs of the American Muslim consumer; Hisham Moharram, PhD, a Pioneer in Eco-Halal Agriculture & Founder/CEO of Good Tree Farm of New Egypt, a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Project who discussed perspectives as a Muslim Agripreneur and Nour Zibdeh, MS, RD shared expertise on minorities, health and cultural awareness for working with Muslim patients and clients. Asma Ahad, Director of Halal Market Development and a chemical engineer by training represented IFANCA and provided insights on the halal food industry & the halal certification process.

An enthusiastic audience of participants had questions that covered a gamut of topics from how to increase awareness about the Muslim diet amongst dietitians and foodservice directors, to concerns about ingredients such as polysorbates, to queries about the difference between kosher and halal.

“Muslim-Americans are an emerging, untapped marketplace opportunity,” said Ms. Duyff. Ms. Zibdeh pointed out that “minority populations receive lower quality care” when it came to many healthcare services. “It is important to establish trust with your Muslim patients or clients. Tell them that you respect their religion,” she advised. Ms. Ahad discussed approaches employed by IFANCA to overcome the fact that “much of the modern food industry has been developed without the Muslim consumer in mind”.