Friday, December 31, 2010

Halal Research Council is organizing National Awareness Road Show on Halal Industry from Kyber to Karachi (Feb 01 to Mar 01, 2011)

Halal Research Council is an organization working globally on Halal certifications and accreditation in order to cater the needs of food and nutrition agencies and side by side non-food agencies especially in the FMCG sectors.

We are pleased to organize a “National Awareness Road Show on Halal Industry” from Feb 01 to March 01, 2011. The Road Show will start from Peshawar on Feb 1st, 2011. It will pass through all major cities of Pakistan and will conduct different awareness programs on Halal food and non-food products and highlight dire need of Halal certification. In 30 Days journey, the road show will cover 20 Cities and conduct 150 awareness programs that includes 30 awareness programs at Chambers & Industries, 20 Seminars at Universities and 25 Interactive Sessions with Trade & Business Associations. This road show will end up in Karachi on Mar 1st, 2010.

For Further details:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

'Halal champagne' falls a little flat

After the halal burger and halal foie gras became a hit with Muslims living in western countries, it is now the turn of champagne - or something vaguely like it - to try.
Trumpeted by its manufacturer as one more way that Muslims can integrate into European society, especially during the holiday season, the drink has been widely derided as a misguided and ultimately demeaning attempt to imitate non-Muslim habits.
"I do hear that," said Rashid Gacem, one of the partners in Night Orient, which is being marketed as a halal-certified, zero per cent alcohol "festive drink".
At a tasting in a suburban shopping mall on a snowy Paris afternoon, he passionately disagreed with his critics: "Muslims in Europe wear western clothes, buy western products and have western friends. What makes our halal drink different from that"?
Orient Drinks SPRL, the Belgian manufacturer of Night Orient, is using the Christmas and New Year holiday season for a promotional push for the first time after being launched in 2009. It is also targeting Arab and Muslim countries, including the UAE.
Standing next to a stack of champagne look-alike bottles, with shiny foil tops and gold and blue labels, Mr Gacem and his wife, Nadia, tried to interest Parisian pre-Christmas shoppers in a sip. It showed the difficulty of steering a course between the glamour of champagne and the non-alcoholic safety of fruit juice.
In March, Night Orient was the recipient of the first European halal certificate issued by the Brussels Chamber of Commerce.
But when it comes to an imitation champagne, many Muslim shoppers reacted with disbelief to the halal claim.
"What? Champagne without alcohol? That cannot be," said one Muslim woman in her 20s who refused to give her name. On tasting it after being reassured she pulled a face. "Bitter," was her judgment. Mrs Gacem was unfazed. "Mix it with cassis and you'll have a kir royal, very chic and much sweeter," she said.
According to Mr Gacem, many Muslims feel pressured to drink something festive on occasions that are traditionally marked with champagne in France, such as "weddings, births or New Year". Rather than being singled out by drinking water or fruit juice, they could now fully participate with their non-Muslim friends and colleagues, he said.
The global halal food industry is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. In France alone, with its approximately five million Muslims, research companies say it is worth more than US$50 billion (Dh183.5bn). Mr Gacem and his Belgian partner, Arnaud Jacquemin, hope to capitalise on the strong expected growth. "We in France are known for our food and drink. We should take advantage of that image," Mr Gacem said.

The need to protect the image of French gastronomy is taken with upmost seriousness by France's food and beverage boards, which can prove an obstacle, as Mr Gacem found out last year. Hesitant to speak about the subject, he acknowledged an earlier version of his product ran foul of the Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne, the champagne board that staunchly guards the drink's image.
The board ruled that the drink, originally called Cham'alal, infringed too much on the champagne name and won a court order in January last year to stop it from being sold. Now, Mr Gacem carefully avoids the champagne comparison and even considers the ruling to have been a blessing in disguise. "The first drink was even more brut, much too bitter for most Muslims who like it sweeter. So we changed the taste."
His partner, Mr Jacquemin, who is not a Muslim, maintains that Night Orient, now marketed in 12 countries, differs from other sparkling grape juice beverages because it uses a unique manufacturing process and comes much closer to the taste of alcoholic drinks. "We produce a very high-level product, both in the way it is packaged and in the way it tastes," he said.
The appeal of the drink seems to be broader than just for Muslim customers. Christophe Montagne, the food and beverages manager for the Cora supermarket in the Paris suburb of Arceuil where the tasting took place, said he chose to carry Night Orient "because there is an increasing interest in world foods and drinks". The supermarket is not in a predominantly Muslim area of town and many non-Muslims showed an interest.
Courtesy by: The National

Say Hello to Halal: U.S. Companies Respond to Growing Muslim Market

In recent years, Americans have watched from afar as Europe has dealt with ideological battling over halal product sales at mainstream shops. France, as we've been told, has witnessed a huge boom in the halal meat market, with everyone from large fast food restaurants to "quintessentially French" food manufacturers and upscale Parisian restaurants adding halal options to their menus. In the UK, food makers have also tuned into the profit potential unlocked by the halal seal of approval. Last September, one British paper shouted the inflammatory headline: "Top Supermarkets Secretly Selling Halal Foods."

Well, shh, don't tell anyone, but some U.S. companies have also decided that they wouldn't mind getting a piece of the middle class Muslim market, too.

According to the Associated Press, the worldwide market for halal goods -- those that conform to Islamic rules about manufacturing and ingredients -- has grown to more than half a billion dollars annually, and in the U.S., more and more executives are looking for ways to cash in. Last year the American Muslim Consumer Conference -- a gathering aimed at promoting Muslims as an untapped market segment -- attracted 200 attendees. This year its organizer had to cap registration at 400 to avoid going over capacity.

A few major mainstream companies have already begun to experiment with halal goods. Whole Foods has added a line of ready-made halal meals -- frozen Indian dinner entrees -- to its product offerings; the Saffron Road brand is the first halal product to be offered national distribution by the mega-chain. McDonalds and Wal-Mart have also introduced halal goods at certain locations. (McDonald's has been selling halal foods in Europe for years, of course.) Wal-Mart is not selling halal meat nationally, but is responding to market demand in places like Dearborn, Michigan, where a number of Wal-Mart shoppers eat according to halal guidelines.

Some Muslims fear that the growing corporate interest in halal products will cause a backlash on this side of the Atlantic, just as it has in Europe. Will shoppers here may equate "going halal" with supporting a theology that contradicts Western ideals? In the UK, some have gone further still -- radical protestors have called KFC's halal menu products "terror chicken."

What would that look like?

Oh, sorry, that's a bald chicken. Terrifying.

It remains to be seen whether the majority of U.S. supermarkets will embrace halal in an obvious way. "Supermarkets aren't benevolent charities, they're in it for the money ... And they've discovered halal sells," said a Muslim woman interviewed last year for a Guardian story about the trend in France. The owner of a chic, all-halal restaurant in Paris offered: "Young Muslims have money and want to eat out like everyone else but according to their religion. The food doesn't taste any different; we have many French customers who don't even know we're totally halal. To us, that is what integration is about."

For a buy-the-numbers analysis of the issue, check out this interview, which appeared in Meat Trade News Daily. In it, Adnan Durrani, the “Chief Halal Officer” of American Halal, the company that makes Saffron Road, lays out his (albeit subjective) assessment of why his product is destined for knockout sales.

Durrani, who previously founded Crystal Rock Water and was a principal of Stonyfield Farms and Delicious Brands, told his interviewer the following:
  • The North American Muslim population is 8 million strong, growing at over 500,000 per year and will double by 2020.
  • Within this surging American Muslim demographic, there is also a meaningful percentage who are affluent, well educated consumers looking for and willing to pay up for 100% natural, anti-biotic free, 100% veggie-fed, and organic Halal foods. These are Whole Foods shoppers!
  • In EEC, Halal protein sales in 10 years have gone from less than $1 billion to $20 billion. Why? Primarily due to supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury, Metro, Carrefour, etc. – finally deciding in Europe to carry Halal products. France, with a smaller total Muslim population than the USA, generates over $2 billion in annual Halal protein sales due to French supermarkets. US retailers have woken up – now Walmart, Costco, Shoprite, SuperValue, Giant, and of course Whole Foods Markets started carrying Halal foods. The tide has started – now comes the tsunami!
  • In terms of ready-to-eat entrees, the way we looked at it is that the ethnic food sector in the US is around $70 billion. Frozen entrees represent over $15 billion. Indian has the largest growth in the category. There were no Halal Indian entrees in the supermarkets – let alone natural or organic.
Durrani added that he believes non-Muslims will also be interested in his product. He reports that in France and the UK, non-Muslim customers account for 50% of all Halal food sales.

"Whole Foods’ managers tell us that Saffron Road’s products are stellar – that our authentic gourmet quality, our wholesome and 100% natural ingredients, and our Certified Humane and gluten free designations appeal to a majority of Whole Foods’ consumers -- 90% of whom are probably non-Muslim."

Courtesy by: Minyanvi

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

By a New MOU with the Ministry of Health More Cooperation

"70,000 food  production  license s   , 11,000   hygienic and Health production licenses  for 12,000 manufacturer and  factories were issued. We are ready to cooperate with ICRIC in the field of Halal brand for these productions for continuation of the solidarity of this work". Said Dr. Sheibani,.....
Deputy  of  Minister  of Food and Pharmaceutics in the  Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education who presented in Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines (ICCIM) with the invitation of Dr. Nahavandia, the President of ICCIM . 
Dr. Janat, Director General of Food, Dr. Rastegar, Director General of the Food and Pharmaceutics Control Laboratories and Dr. SafarChi, the Responsible for Cooperation and International Relations were accompanying Dr. Sheibani.
     Dr. Nahavandian  thanked  the cooperation and companionship of the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education with ICRIC that has became applicable with signing previous MOU by the former  Deputy  of the Ministry of Health and also thanked of good cooperation of the current responsible in following up and strengthening that MOU and increasing the area of cooperation especially in the field of operating  of the  central food and pharmaceutics research center. He remarked that the achievement of holding International Health Tourism Forum was a great success and added:  "It  was  a grace of  God  that we  achieved by the efforts  of our  friends, ICRIC, Iran, Turkey and some other countries  and also  the great achievement of adopting  OIC Halal Food Standard  is a golden document in the  proximity  of the Islamic Schools of Thought  which should watch over very carefully and to stabilize it in the world".  
 Dr. Nahavandian emphasized that establishing Halal Research Center is a necessary issue which has been  adopted by Halal Supreme Council  and we can promote and accomplish it with the cooperation of Ministry of Health. In the field of laboratories, all potency of the Ministry  should   be in service of this international issue and fortunately a MoU was signed with the Turkey Standard Organization (TSE) which according to this MoU all laboratories in Turkey will  be in  service of  this direction.                                                                                                                                                    Dr. Sheibani expressed his happiness  of  these  efforts and expressed his full  readiness and his friends in different parts of Ministry of Health among  all Food and Pharmaceutics Office and also the laboratories of food and pharmaceutics control. In this meeting a MoU was signed between Dr. Nahavandian from ICRIC and Dr. Sheibani, the Deputy of Food and Pharmaceutics of the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education.

Courtesy by: Halal World

Brunei: Education on Islamic Branding and Marketing

Brunei companies and Small and Medium Enterprises or SMEs will soon be able to develop their potential in the growing Halal sector and assist in diversifying the economy with the signing of a collaboration agreement for a project on “research and Education on Islamic Branding and Marketing for Brunei Darussalam”. The project provides knowledge that will facilitate putting the Sultanate on the Halal map and gain access to markets in this competitive industry. In addition, the project will also provide knowledge and transferable skills to Bruneians for long term benefit of the Brunei Halal industry.
This morning, a signing agreement for the project’s Phase One was held between the government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and the Oxford Said Business School Limited, University of Oxford. Representing Brunei Darussalam was the Department of Agriculture and Agrifood, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Yahya. Signing on behalf of the government was the Acting Director of Agriculture and Agrifood, Dayang Hajah Aidah binti Haji Mohammad Hanifah, while the signatory of Oxford Said Business School Limited, University of Oxford was its Associate Fellow and Project Director, Doctor Paul Temporal. The scope of works in the project are to implement training programmes in branding and marketing techniques; and to conduct as well as write research and development work on the subject area specific to the nation’s needs.
The main focus of this project are topics related to Halal branding and marketing including research on Halal markets, products and services. This is especially appropriate to the future of the Brunei Halal industry such as food, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, research on Islamic minority and majority Halal markets – opportunities and challenges among others. Through this research, Brunei will be able to brand, position and prepare itself in the most effective manner to take advantage of this growing Halal industry. The project is expected to be completed in about 12 months. The signing ceremony took place at a hotel in the capital.

Courtesy by: Halal Focus

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Opinion: When Haram Can Become Halal – Part II

By Dr. Wan Azhar Wan Ahmad, Senior Fellow / Director, Center for the Study of Syariah, Law and Politics, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM)
[Note: This article was published by The Star (Malaysia) on December 14, 2010. However, it was edited to the extent that I believe may distort readers’ understanding of the issue. Here is the full version of the writing].
This is a corollary, a continuation of my earlier article, “When haram can become halal,” (see HalalFocus) published by The Star on December 7. These two pieces must be read together before one can make any appropriate conclusion on the subject matter discussed.
The entire issue is extremely sensitive to Muslims and technical in nature. Thus readers are to go through the whole writing with patience and passion to the very end.
The second Islamic legal principle that complements my deliberation on istihalah last week is istihlak, or ‘extreme dilution’. Readers must be careful here so as not to confuse the two.
This concept materializes when a particular entity is entirely obliterated inside a second entity in such a manner that the former cannot be considered as part of the latter.
In our context, it refers to a situation whereby a prohibited substance is diluted in a lawful medium to the extent that none of the known properties of the prohibited substance are noticeable in the lawful medium.
When this takes place, the prohibited status of the first substance can be ignored, meaning it’s unlawfulness has no legal effect on the second medium.
To illustrate, if animals urinate in a lake, the water of this lake is still pure and lawful for drink and ablution, provided the noticeable properties of the water, i.e. its colour, smell and taste are unchanged by the urine.
Similarly if a drop of wine/blood founds its way into a glass full of clean water and becomes diluted in it, the water is still pure so long as the properties of the water remain unchanged. Here, the drop of wine/blood loses its identity. Hence the applicability of the law prohibiting intoxicant/blood ceases to exist.
This ‘extreme dilution’ principle is based on a hadith when people asked the Prophet about a well in which a carrion fell (carrion is considered impure and anything contaminated by it is equally impure). The Prophet SAW explained that if the water is more than a specified amount, then there was neither harm nor prohibition in using it. (The specified amount of water is required to ensure that the carrion will not change the properties of the water).
Another hadith supports the above. During the Prophet’s time, his companions continued to drink fruit juice until it showed signs of fermentation. They would only stop drinking the ‘juice’ if its smell or taste indicated that it had changed to wine, suggesting the presence of a considerable amount of alcohol in it.
But even before the fruit juice becomes wine, a certain amount of alcohol was already there. However, the amount of alcohol was too insignificant to affect its taste or smell. Thus the companions consciously ignored its purported prohibition.
The above shows that the mere presence of alcohol is not the determining basis for the prohibition of such a beverage containing it. This kind of beverage is declared unlawful by virtue of its intoxicating effects. A number of other hadiths affirm this.
Allow me to digress a bit. Alcohol here refers to ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, the intoxicating element in wine, beer, spirit and so on. It is produced by means of fermentation or distillation. Generally, the content of alcohol in beer is between 4 – 6%, in wine 9 – 16% and in spirit more than 20%. The fact that ethanol is added to other material to form liquor indicates that it is extremely harmful to be consumed in itself.
Khamr’ as related in the Qur’an is not this ethanol. The forbidden khamr here refers to the fermented liquor, and extended, by analogy to include any intoxicating beverages or drugs. Therefore, it is not ethanol per se that is prohibited by Islamic Law, but rather any beverages with intoxicating effect that wipes out one’s sanity.
If the mere presence of alcohol is the defining factor for prohibition, many other beverages, food items or other products containing it are to be equally declared so. Consider the following examples.
A certain amount of alcohol exist in ‘tapai’ (a delicacy made from rice or tapioca fermented with yeast), ‘tuak’ (a drink extracted from coconut tree, very popular in Kelantan), carbonated drinks and colas, or even in ‘budu’ (a sauce made from fermented salted anchovies/fish), all of which are consumed by a large portion of Muslims. But none of them is haram despite the presence of alcohol.
Let’s go back to our actual discourse. One might argue the validity of istihlak by citing the well known and authentic hadith to the effect that if a large amount of an intoxicating substance is prohibited, then a small amount of it, perhaps even a drop, is also forbidden.
My response goes as follows. The said hadith is literally applicable under normal circumstances. However, in our context here, the syari’e texts are to be interpreted wholistically by taking into consideration other relevant textual evidences as well.
Taking one particular verse from the Qur’an or one hadith in isolation of other related texts can lead to strange, irrational and contradictory rulings.
In light of the hadith referred to above, Muslim scholars have interpreted and qualified it in combination with the previous two situations (the carrion and fermented juice cases). Therefore, under special circumstances, or any situations comparable to that embodied in the two traditions, the ‘one drop’ hadith does not prevail.
As pointed out, a certain amount of alcohol is also present in tapai, tuak, colas, budu and so on. But, in reality, despite rigorous consumption, one is hardly affected by the alcohol contained in them since its amounts and concentration are so minimal and thus negligible.
Similarly, most cheeses are made with the help of milk-coagulating enzymes, such as pepsin or rennet, which can be taken from pigs or other animals. However, enzymes are catalysts, in the sense that they do not actually become part of the cheese itself. They only aid in its formation.
After the milk coagulates and the curds fall to the bottom, the remaining liquid and enzymes are drained off. While it is possible that some enzymes remain in the cheese, the concentration is minimal.
Another case of istihlak is the medicinal use of certain chemical compounds extracted by dissolving plant tissue in alcohol. The end product is virtually free of alcohol although it might contain some infinitesimal traces.
From the foregoing discussion, I would say that there is something common between istihalah and istihlak. This commonality, at least, refers to the inconsequential amount of prohibited substance in things Muslims consume or use.
All cited examples illustrating the two principles are real, pointing to the fact that the amount is too insignificant to the extent that it can only be traced by special machines or detectors, if any, with capabilities that go beyond what our naked senses may capture.
The question here, as Muslims, are we strictly supposed to go into that minutest details in ascertaining the lawfulness of things we use? Are we supposed to conduct a DNA test or employ other scientific methods to determine a 100% permissibility status of things?
Of course, every Muslim is obliged to be conscientious about what he/she does, be it the consumption of beverages/foods, nutritional supplements, medicinal, pharmaceuticals or cosmetic items.
But I am of the opinion that generally Muslims are not required to go and investigate into such a microscopic detail for every occasion of ambiguity. Until and unless convinced otherwise, I believe that the law pertaining to halal and haram is not applicable at the molecular or atomic level of things.
If we were to accept that the law is still relevant, say, at the DNA level, then we have no choice but to consider the excrement, blood and milk of cattle (the illustration for istihalah) are all haram though all of them come from the very same halal source.
For a lay Muslim, if he wants to buy a birthday cake, it is not strictly necessary for him to check whether or not the gelatin used is taken from pig or cattle, to the extent of visiting the factory manufacturing it in Canada for example, or by tracing the animal (if not pig) up to its farm in Argentina, or going to abattoirs in New Zealand to determine whether or not the animal was Islamically slaughtered.
One is also not supposed to buy a specially made device to detect the amount of prohibited substance down to its smallest measurable unit. All the steps mentioned are too troublesome for one to carry out every time one encounters such an uncertainty in any product.
It is sufficient for one to rely on what is manifest from the external noticeable features, or what the public perception say on it. In fact, in Islamic jurisprudence, most legal rulings are concluded based on what is obvious to the senses, decided so by general agreement of the community, endorsed by scholarly observation and rational arguments of majority jurists by means of preponderance probability (ghalabah al-zann), a legal principle that entails positive knowledge.
But for Muslim entrepreneurs, businessmen and other industrial players selling or producing items consumable by Muslims, it is their duty to ensure that their goods and products are safe from any noticeable prohibited substance. 
Though I am personally inclined to say that perhaps the principle of istihalah is applicable to them in certain situations, there are other legal opinions saying that if they have the knowledge, it is haram for them to ignore such a prohibited substance.
To be on the safer side, a Muslim cheese manufacturer, for instance, is not supposed to use porcine originated from pig in his products if he can look for alternative material like bovine extracted from cattle.
This fraternity of business people must enjoy their profits and commercial gains responsibly, religiously, legally.
Now, Muslims must bear this in mind. Allah the Almighty admonishes the believers not to ask questions about things which if made plain and clear to them may cause them trouble (al-Ma’idah, 5: 101).
If they do not pay heed to this, they will become like the Jews, who, when Allah straightforwardly commands them to sacrifice a female cattle, they reacted by asking silly questions making its execution even more difficult for themselves, almost calling it off (al-Baqarah, 2: 67—71).
Commenting the story, Abdullah Yusuf Ali says those Israelites were actually treating the divine command as a jest.
Taking lesson from this event, Muslims today must never imitate or seen to reprise these attitude and behaviours, ‘mocking’ religious instructions and making life troublesome unnecessarily!
The Quranic reminders aforementioned are substantiated by the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.). His mission was never to inflict hardship on people, but to bring mercy to the whole creatures of the universe.
He counsels that religion is easy and always prefers an easier alternative from two or more options.  He demonstrates this, for instance, by not having long recitals during prayers and never imposed that tarawih prayers during Ramadhan must be performed 20 cycles.
Having said all the above, I am not advocating that Muslim scientists have to give up their R & D and halt inventing devices to trace prohibited substances in any products related to Muslims.
On the contrary, it is their collective responsibility (fardhu kifayah) to do so. In fact, under certain circumstances, this responsibility may change to become personal obligation (fardhu ayn) to certain individual scientist.
But, if they manage to come out with any scientific gadget, such a device is not to be first marketed to the general masses.
It is quite ridiculous for those scientists to expect that ordinary members of the public will have to dig out their pockets to buy, say, a RM10K detector and to make it available in every household for one to inspect whether or not one’s vegetables contain a certain ‘nanogram’ amount of prohibited elements traceable to pig.
What is more advisable for those scientists is to go and urge the authorities responsible for Muslim affairs or even the government to take actions to protect and enhance the interests of Muslims in all aspects of life.
In the midst of abundant obscurities pertaining to the lawfulness of thousands of products used by Muslims, and upon discoveries made through those scientific devices, those authorities and government must take measures, for example, to encourage and to financially support more Muslim industrial players to produce halal gelatin and so on in huge entities.
But, often times, on the one hand, I am annoyed with the kind of ‘religious overzealousness’ of our people. On the other, as an academician, I am equally disturbed, flabbergasted, with what I perceive as the lackadaisical attitude, lack of commitment, lack of political will and sincerity of our political leaders.
While I applaud the ongoing efforts to make Malaysia the world’s best halal hub for mankind, I just hope that the people entrusted with the amanah mean business and are really serious about it, giving utmost priority to religious considerations as their inspirations, rather than personal or organizational gains.
Last but not least, as guidelines, the right attitude for Muslims to hold includes the followings:
(i)             In cases of doubt and one fears that one may compromise one religious belief and principles in doing or consuming anything, then one may distance oneself from such a thing. This is actually the spirit of the very first hadith referred to in this article (the first part).
(ii)           Any product that contains a considerable amount of a prohibited substance, or in which the properties of a prohibited substance are noticeable, is in itself prohibited, and thus to be avoided.
(iii) If the amount of a prohibited substance is significantly inconsequential/infinitesimal to affect the noticeable properties of a thing, then the prohibition may be ignored.
In short, as a general rule, Muslims are not rigidly required to unnecessarily putting themselves into severe hardship in identifying the lawfulness of things. If one insists that such an action or process of determination is imperative on Muslims no matter what, then one would not find anything lawful on the face of this planet!
In this regard, Muhammad b. Allan al-Bakri, a traditional Shafi’i jurist, has reportedly said: “Complete certainty that something is lawful is only conceivable about rainwater falling from the sky into one’s hand” (see Dalil al-Falihin li Turuq Riyad al-Salihin).

Courtesy by: Halal Focus

Iran: MOU signing at the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines

Filed in Asia, Halal Integrity, Science & Research on 28/12/2010 with no comments
“70,000 food  production  licenses, 11,000 hygiene and Health production licenses  for 12,000 manufacturers and  factories have been issued. We are ready to cooperate with ICRIC in the field of Halal brand for these productions for continuation of the solidarity of this work”. Said Dr. Sheibani, Deputy  of  Minister  of Food and Pharmaceutics in the  Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education who presented in Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Mines (ICCIM) with the invitation of Dr. Nahavandia, the President of ICCIM .
Dr. Janat, Director General of Food, Dr. Rastegar, Director General of the Food and Pharmaceutics Control Laboratories and Dr. Safar Chi, the Responsible for Cooperation and International Relations were accompanying Dr. Sheibani.
Dr. Nahavandian  thanked the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education for their cooperation and companionship with ICRIC, that commenced with the signing of a previous MOU by the former  Deputy  of the Ministry of Health. He also thanked them for their cooperation with their current work in following up and strengthening that MOU, and increasing their area of cooperation, especially in the field of the operation  of the  central food and pharmaceutics research center.
He remarked that the achievement of holding International Health Tourism Forum was a great success and added:  “It  was  a grace of  God  that we  achieved by the efforts  of our  friends, ICRIC, Iran, Turkey and some other countries  and also  the great achievement of adopting  OIC Halal Food Standard  is a golden document in the  proximity  of the Islamic Schools of Thought  which we should watch over very carefully and to stabilize it in the world”.
Dr. Nahavandian emphasized that establishing Halal Research Center is a necessary issue which has been  adopted by Halal Supreme Council  and we can promote and accomplish it with the cooperation of Ministry of Health. In the field of laboratories, all potency of the Ministry  should be in service to this international issue. Fortunately an MoU was signed with the Turkey Standard Organization (TSE) which, according to this MoU, all laboratories in Turkey will  be in  service of  this direction.
Dr. Sheibani also expressed his happiness  for  these  efforts and expressed his full readiness, and that of his friends in different parts of Ministry of Health among  all Food and Pharmaceutics Office, and also the laboratories of food and pharmaceutics control.
At this meeting an MoU was signed between Dr. Nahavandian from ICRIC and Dr. Sheibani, the Deputy of Food and Pharmaceutics of the Ministry of Health, Treatment and Medical Education.

courtesy by: Halal Focus

USA: Businesses seek ways to tap Muslim market

USA: Businesses seek ways to tap Muslim market

By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press

Companies find opportunity in marketing to U.S. Muslims, but some face ugly reaction

NEW BRUNSWICK — In the ballroom of an upscale hotel a short train ride from New York, advertisers, food industry executives and market researchers mingled — the men in dark suits, the women in headscarves and Western dress. Chocolates made according to Islamic dietary laws were placed at each table.
The setting was the American Muslim Consumer Conference, which aimed to promote Muslims as a new market segment for U.S. companies. While corporations have long catered to Muslim communities in Europe, businesses have only tentatively started to follow suit in the U.S. — and they are doing so at a time of intensified anti-Muslim feeling that companies worry could hurt them, too. American Muslims seeking more acknowledgment in the marketplace argue that businesses have more to gain than lose by reaching out to the community.
“We are not saying, ‘Support us,’” said Masood, a graduate of the University of Illinois, Chicago, and management consultant. “But we want them to understand what our values are.”
There are signs the industry is stirring: Faisal Masood, a Wall Street executive who organized the gathering, had attracted only 200 or so attendees when he started the event last year. This year, he had to close registration at 400 to keep from going over capacity.
The worldwide market for Islamically permitted goods, called halal, has grown to more than half a billion dollars annually. Ritually slaughtered meat is a mainstay, but the halal industry is much broader, including foods and seasoning that omit alcohol, pork products and other forbidden ingredients, along with cosmetics, finance and clothing.
Corporations have been courting immigrant Muslim communities in Europe for several years. Nestle, for example, has about 20 factories in Europe with halal-certified production lines and advertises to Western Muslims through its marketing campaign called “Taste of Home.” Nestle plans to increase its ethnic and halal offerings in Europe in coming years.
In the United States, iconic American companies such as McDonald’s (which already has a popular halal menu overseas) and Wal-Mart have entered the halal arena. In August, the natural grocery giant Whole Foods began selling its first nationally distributed halal food product — frozen Indian entrees called Saffron Road.
Along with new customers, however, the companies draw critics and can become targets in the ideological battle over Islam and terrorism.
Abdalhamid Evans, project director with the World Halal Forum Europe, which works with the global halal industry, said a recent backlash has prompted some mainstream businesses in Europe to keep a lower profile about their halal products or scale back their offerings.
In the U.K., after Kentucky Fried Chicken rolled out halal menu options in several dozen stores, the restaurant chain pulled the items in a few locations in the face of protests. Critics dubbed the menu “terror chicken.”
Last September, the Daily Mail of London reported that many British supermarkets, fast-food chains, hospitals, schools, pubs and sporting arenas such as Wembley Stadium, were serving some halal meat and poultry without notifying the public. A large share of meat sold in Britain comes from New Zealand, where the slaughterhouses have expanded halal production as they try to boost their already robust exports to Islamic countries.
In the uproar that followed, Barnabas Aid, a group that fights Christian persecution worldwide, started a petition in Britain against what it called the “imposition” of halal. It “may be interpreted as an act of Islamic supremacy,” the group said.
U.S. companies have also faced some resistance, although on a smaller scale.
Last year, Best Buy Inc. was inundated with calls, e-mails and letters complaining that the company was anti-American after acknowledging a Muslim holiday — “Eid al-Adha,” or the Feast of the Sacrifice — for the first time in a national advertisement. That year, Eid al-Adha fell around Thanksgiving, so the ad, a small bubble at the bottom of the page, appeared in the company’s Thanksgiving flier. Critics seized on the timing in their complaints.
“They used very abusive language,” said Nausheena Hussain, a marketing manager for Best Buy in Minnesota. “It was pretty sad.”
Best Buy executives stood by their decision. The company saw the holiday greeting as part of a larger goal of reaching consumers from different cultures. Soon, Muslims started calling to thank Best Buy and set up a Facebook page honoring the company, which continues to acknowledge Muslim holidays.
“It’s a very viable customer segment,” said Zainab Ali, senior marketing manager with the money transfer company MoneyGram, which ran a special Ramadan promotion this year for Muslims in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. “You just need to get over some of the fear and look at them as just another consumer.”
The potential for profit is drawing more companies to the idea.
This year, Ogilvy & Mather, the global advertising firm, started an international Islamic branding consultancy called Ogilvy Noor that includes an emphasis on U.S. Muslims. (“Noor” means “light” in Arabic.) Muslims came to the United States in large numbers for doctorates, engineering and medical degrees, after the federal government eased immigration quotas in the 1960s. Studies have found that a significant percentage of Muslims are better educated and wealthier than other Americans.
Joohi Tahir, vice president of marketing and sales for Crescent Foods, the halal chicken producers based in Chicago, said Wal-Mart executives approached Crescent Foods two years ago looking for a halal chicken supplier, then invited Crescent executives to Wal-Mart headquarters in Arkansas to advise them on reaching Muslim consumers.
That same year, Wal-Mart opened a supercenter in Dearborn, Mich., an area with one of the largest Muslim and Arab populations in the country. The store is geared for Mideast consumers, with a range of halal products, including specialty foods.
“Mainstream is coming to halal,” Tahir said.
Wal-Mart spokesman Bill Wertz said the merchandise in each store can vary according to the needs of the surrounding community, so it is difficult to know the exact number of U.S. stores that carry halal products. But several in Michigan and at least one store in Canada have advertised that they offer some halal items.
Manufacturers entering the field hope they can appeal to non-Muslims as well.
Jack Acree, executive vice president of American Halal Co., which produces the Saffron Road products, emphasizes that the entrees are not only halal, but also all-natural and humanely farmed, and free of
antibiotics and hormones.
“Muslims are highly educated and live in metro areas, and they’re shopping with us already,” said Errol Schweizer, senior global grocery coordinator for Whole Foods. “If we have a customer base where there’s a big Muslim population, it makes sense for us to service that population.”
Schweizer would not answer directly when asked if anyone complained to the company over its Muslim outreach. He said only that halal foods will be judged like any other products — by whether the items sell.
For Muslims, the issue is not just a matter of convenience. Recognition by major companies is an important sign of acceptance as they struggle to establish themselves in the U.S. They are following in the footsteps of American Jews, who struggled for decades for mainstream acceptance of kosher food — and of Judaism.

Despite the sometimes unfriendly climate for Muslims, Evans, of the World Halal Forum, said it is inevitable that a large number of businesses will reach out to Muslim consumers, given the wealth and size of the Muslim population — more than a billion people worldwide — and their presence in the West.
“It isn’t a question of whether they’re going to do it,” Evans said. “It’s a question of where and when and how.”

Courtesy by: Halal Focus

Monday, December 27, 2010

Russia to export halal reindeer meat to Qatar

When Governor Dmitry Kobylkin of Yamalo-Nenets, where most of Russia's gas is produced, was in Qatar for investment talks last month, he made an agreement with the Qatari leadership to start production of halal reindeer meat, Reuters reports.
Upon return to Yamal, home to 700,000 reindeer and 500,000 people, Kobylkin had the state-owned Yamal Reindeer Company arrange for ritual Islamic slaughter and the trial production of 1,000 cans of halal reindeer meat.
This week Qatari officials will get their first taste of reindeer at a Russia-Qatar investment forum in Doha where Kobylkin's deputy will present the Reindeer Company’s business plan to expand into halal meat production and product exports.
Reindeer herding and meat production is Yamalo-Nenets’ No 3 industry after oil and gas. Yamal produces 85 percent of Russia's gas and 15 percent of its oil. The state-owned Yamal Reindeer Company received EU certification to export in 2006.
Also among Russia’s Muslim community there is a large demand for halal products and the Yamal Reindeer Company hopes to be able to market halal canned reindeer within Russia.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

UK: Halal cosmetics store to open in Birmingham city centre

A BEAUTY shop offering Halal cosmetics is to open in Birmingham city centre.
Pure Halal Beauty will offer ethical beauty products and cosmetics, all free of animal products and alcohol and all Halal certified.
The store will open on the Lower Ground Level at The Pavilions Shopping Centre on December 11.
The woman behind the shop, 20-year-old Rose Brown from Birmingham said she was shocked that so many products contained animal derived ingredients.
As a vegetarian and keen follower of ethical issues she searched the world for products from Malaysia, United States, Holland and the UK that cater for female and male everyday use as well as a vast range of cosmetics, hair care products, specialist creams and serums.
“I wanted to be able to use beauty products and cosmetics but was not prepared to compromise anymore by using products that I knew to be unethical,” she said.
“Halal certification ensures the ingredients used in the products are free from all animal ingredients and testing.”

Courtey by: Bloomberg

Malaysia: ‘Don’t be misled on Halal food’ advice

Many Muslims don’t seem to be very aware of the halal concept and their rights to buy and consume halal products, said Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department, Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran.
“As a result, some food traders are taking advantage of the existing situation by placing ‘Halal’ signages on their non-Muslim premises and hire waitresses and cashiers wearing headscarves to attract Muslim customers.
“Therefore, Muslims must be vigilant and be alert on their rights as consumers so that they would not be hoodwinked into eating at such premises,” he said.
Nasir said this when officiating at the closing of the Halal Convention Sabah 2010 at Sa’adah Hall in Wisma Muis, here, Monday.
Also present were Sabah Islamic Affairs Department (Jheains) director Datuk Amri A. Suratman and his Assistant Principal Director for Regional and Administration Ustaz Siddiq Ag. Adi.
Nasir said the halal convention was held to educate Muslims on the halal concept and enhance their awareness to have a better understanding of the issue.
“It is imperative for the Muslims to understand that halal does not only mean the logo or products being free from pig meat and alcohol but that it covers many aspects including cleanliness and the ingredients of food and drinks.
“In fact, by definition halal covers all aspects of a product in terms of its cleanliness and quality from the beginning of the production process up to the stage when it is ready to be eaten.
According to Nasir, a total of 314 premises have been issued the halal certification by the State-level Committee of Islamic Food Utilisation that comprised Jheains, Sabah Health Department, Domestic Trade, Consumerism and Co-operative Ministry, Department of Veterinary Services and Animal Industry, Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) Sabah branch, Sirim Berhad Sabah branch, City Hall Kota Kinabalu, Chemistry Department Sabah branch and Local Government and Housing Ministry.
Of the figure, he said, 124 product premises were issued the certification followed by 93 restaurants and eateries, 54 hotel restaurants and 24 abattoirs and 19 re-packaging premises.
In this respect, he called on the food operators and traders who were issued the certifications to always make sure and safeguard the standard and quality required of the halal concept are met at all times.
This is because, Nasir said not all Muslim consumers have full confidence in the halal logo although it is issued by the State and Federal religious authorities following several incidents involving some non-Muslim traders who abused the halal logo for profit.
At the same time, he urged Muslim traders and operators to obtain the halal certification and logo which will not only enhance the Muslim consumers’ confidence but also make sure the production, preparation and marketing of products meet the halal standards.
By doing these, he said Muslim entrepreneurs would have bright prospects to penetrate the vast halal market.

Brunei: Brunei’s First Halal and Good Manufacturing Practice

Brunei Darussalam will be the world’s first country to issue guidelines on the production of halal pharmaceuticals, including the use of alcohol and animal products. Viva Pharmaceutical Incorporated, Aureos Capital and a group of local investors have committed to investing in Brunei’s first Halal and Good Manufacturing Practice certified manufacturer of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical producers, Vivapharm (Brunei) Sendirian Berhad.
Officiating at the ground breaking ceremony for the centre’s building this morning were the Second Minister of Finance at the Prime Minister’s Office, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman and the Deputy Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Dato Paduka Awang Haji Ali bin Haji Apong.
This morning’s ceremony then proceeded with the signing of the lease agreement between Vivapharm (Brunei) Sendirian Berhad and the Brunei Industrial Development Authority, BINA, an agency under the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources. Signing on behalf of BINA was its Acting Director, Pengiran Haji Tajuddin bin Pengiran Haji Salleh witnessed by the Senior Special Duties Officer of BINA, Haji Metassan bin Haji Abdul Salim. Vivapharm (Brunei) was represented by Pengiran Adanan bin Pengiran Seri Indera Pengiran Haji Ismail and witnessed by the Chairman of Vivapharm (Brunei) Sendirian Berhad, Mr Jason.

Vivapharm will invest in research and development, particularly focused on developing new drugs and advanced technologies based on the local flora and fauna found in the heart of Borneo. Vivapharm will also focused on the export of halal-certified natural health products, over-the-counter and prescription drugs on the regional markets of Asia Pacific, Middle East, Western Europe and the US which have large muslim populations.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SBI signs MoU with Malaysian Halal Authority

KARACHI: Sindh Board of Investment (SBI) achieved a historic milestone in its progress towards development of Halal sector in Pakistan by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) which is the premier agency for development of Halal Industry in Malaysia.
According to SBI here on Thursday, the MOU was signed in HDC’s Kuala Lumpur office between Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary Investment Department and Director General Sindh Board of Investment (SBI) and Jamil Bidin, the Chairman and CEO of HDC in the presence of  Advisor to CM Sindh on Investment Zubair Motiwala and the High Commissioner of Pakistan for Malaysia Masood Khalid and the officials of HDC.
Malaysia is one of the key players in global Halal sector, the others being Australia, Brazil, Thailand, India, etc. with China, France and Japan having plans to enter soon.
Speaking on the occasion Jamil Bidin, CEO of HDC stated that the great potential of global Halal market provides various opportunities for collaboration between the two brotherly countries and the initiative taken by the SBI will pave way for development of this industry in Pakistan.
He said, HDC will provide all assistance for development of regulatory framework, establishment of Halal Parks (designated industrial areas) and training of entrepreneurs, auditors and functionaries in pursuance of the MOU signed. He also pointed out the potential of business to business joint ventures for Halal industry in both the countries.
Motiwala, in his address said that SBI was keen to work out the detailed implementation plan to ensure that the MOU meets aspirations of both the parties to play their due roles in development of Halal industry.
A working group comprising of was also formed to work out modalities and work plan for the implementation of MoU.