Tackling Community Concerns About Halal Meat

Recent awareness of the consumption of halal products: meat, non meat processed food items, pharmaceutical/nutraceutical and cosmetic products has been increasing among Muslims, especially the younger generation. It is a good sign that the community is increasingly conscientious of the commands of God and want to please Him. In the past couple of years, articles in the media have focused on the rising demand for these halal products, Islamic Finance, Muslim friendly hospitality and travel options. It is very obvious that there is a great potential for companies to have their products halal certified since every industry is willing to satisfy the demand of Muslim consumers. Recent statistics gives a promising picture of the global Muslim population, and its associated potential trillion dollar global halal industry. The American Muslim market alone is estimated to be worth about $170 billion a year, with $20 billion dollars of that just spent on food each year.

IFANCA has been in the halal certification business for almost 30 years and have so far certified more than 20,000 products from about 2,400 companies in over 55 countries. The process of certification involves review of ingredients and audit/inspection of production sites by highly qualified and experienced food scientists along with the approval of religious scholars. In addition to certifying products, scope at IFANCA includes supervision and certification of animal slaughtering and slaughter houses. This is executed according to an established criteria based upon Quran, Sunnah (practices of Prophet Muhammad), and technical requirements. We know that there are various interpretations of the Quranic verses and Hadith by different scholars applicable to meat slaughtered by the people of book, and the meat on which no ones name was uttered at the time of slaughter. It is also true that some times, consumers could be confused by misinformed Imam or scholars, who with their limited knowledge of slaughtering techniques and current challenges of demand and supply, give fatwas or decrees and declare some meat halal and some haram.

We all should know the difference between halal and Zabiha or Dhabiha ourselves. God has told us very clearly that the meat from cows, goat/lamb/sheep, poultry and fish is considered halal; whereas carnivorous animals, swine/pork and birds of prey are haram. Next comes the term, Zabiha or Dhabiha, which means that the halal animal has to be slaughtered by a sane Muslim reciting the TasmiyyahBismillah, (in the name of God), and TakbeerAllahuAkbar, (God is great). The meat from a halal animal cannot become halal for consumption unless it was slaughtered according to the right procedure; nor can swine meat become halal if slaughtered by a Muslim reciting Bismillah and Allahu Akbar.

Recently, there has been an attempt to proclaim the meat haram if cattle is not slaughtered according to the traditional horizontal cut, or if there is stunning of large animals and machine slaughter of chickens. These methods enable industry to meet safety requirements and the high volume of demand for halal products. Differences of opinion on machine slaughter are openly recognized by the various Islamic scholars. If all religious opinions on the table are not considered, or given a fair hearing, this may result in having a negative impact on the meat industry with most large suppliers opting to keep from meeting the Muslim consumers needs.


IFANCA Relief Fund

An ongoing effort is the IFANCA Relief Fund which supports fundraising for the earthquake and Tsunami hit victims in Japan. Donations continue to be accepted via PayPal at www.sabeelpantry.org, click on “Donate” and mention “Japan” to earmark your donations.


Conversation on Food, Race and Worker Justice in the U.S. Food System

In support of social justice and social responsibility, both of which comprise the foundation of the Muslim faith, IFANCA was present at a November 2010 event titled “An Interfaith Conversation on Food, Race and Worker Justice in the U.S. Food System”. The event was hosted by the Center for New Community University Center in Chicago, on Nov. 10th and 11th, 2010.

According to a well-known hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad), when the Prophet was asked if there was a reward for serving animals, (be it feeding them, offering them shelter etc), he replied in the affirmative. He said that there was indeed a reward for serving any living being,” noted Dr. Farhat Quadri, Director, Community Relations, IFANCA. “Even animals that are slaughtered for food have to be raised humanely. Given those standards, the welfare of workers, automatically, is of paramount importance to Muslims.”

Such conversations are intended to foster and encourage cooperation and accountability between the plant owners, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which determines “the maximum line speed of the slaughtering process,” and the Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA is responsible for “training workers on safe worker practices and holding industry owners accountable for the safety, or lack thereof, of industry workers” Together, they discussed pertinent issues in the food industry.

Charity, for instance, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, alludes to giving alms to the poor and needy. It also encompasses sharing of one’s God-given talents, one’s time and emphasizes removing hurdles in the paths of others. “Preserving the body and the soul is a theme in Islam. For that Muslims should be committed to healthy food from the time a seed is planted in the earth till the time it is served on the table. And that includes bringing the values of Islam to bear on the whole process,” said Sheikh Kifah Mustapha, Imaam and Associate Director, Mosque Foundation, who was an attendee. “Protecting the environment, making sure the rights of the farmers and all workers are protected, and the reciting of prayers when we consume our food. All these actions fall under the umbrella of what is expected of us as Muslims,” he said.


Coke Ingredient Still a Secret

There have been emails and articles floating around on the internet claiming to have discovered Coke’s secret ingredient. This type of conjecture is common especially about large corporations and Coca Cola is not immune to it. IFANCA feels that the Muslim community is wasting its energy and time on something as baseless as these statements. IFANCA wants to set the record straight since it has been working with the company for several years, making the product halal for Muslim markets. Coca Cola has issued the following statement:

  • The ingredients used in our beverages are listed on the product labels, and many third parties — including ‘This American Life’ — have tried over time to crack the secret formula of Coca-Cola. Try as they might to crack that formula, there truly is only one “real thing”.
  • Coca-Cola is a non-alcoholic beverage. In the manufacture of Coca-Cola, alcohol is not added as an ingredient and no fermentation takes place.
  • The ingredients and manufacturing process used in the production of Coca-Cola are rigorously regulated by government and health authorities in more than 200 countries which have consistently recognized the beverage Coca-Cola as a non-alcoholic product.
  • Coca-Cola is safe and meets the safety requirements, laws and practices in every country where our brands are sold.