Thursday, January 27, 2011

Abu Omar: Houston's Only Halal Taco Truck

I scanned the short menu on the side of Abu Omar, a silver-sided taco truck on Hillcroft at Pagewood. It wasn't very forthcoming about the kinds of meats it served, just listing items like tacos and tortas.

"Do you have chicharron?" I asked the smiling young man, Roberto, inside. "No," he replied. "We'" He trailed off as the word seemed on the tip of his tongue. Finally: "Halal! We're halal. Only beef and chicken."
Abu Omar is, as far as I know, the only halal taco truck in Houston. And even more interestingly, it switches from Mexican specialties during the day to Middle Eastern cuisine at night: After 6 p.m., the truck offers shawarma, falafel, foul, Turkish coffee and much more. When you think about it, shawarma isn't all that different from al pastor-style meat (except with regard to the meat itself) -- so an Arab taco truck isn't that much of an aberration.
Nevertheless, it's an exciting and wondrously new thing here in Houston. So when my friend John, who works with refugees in the area, emailed me to tell me about the little truck -- which just opened two weeks ago -- I was incredibly excited to check it out.
Arriving on a sunny afternoon last week, John and I took in the hand-painted, bright yellow sign next to the truck, displaying its name in both English and Arabic. As I snapped a couple of pictures after ordering, a handsome young man got out of a car parked near the truck and walked over to me and John, curious about our intentions.
The owner introduced himself as Alex, a young man originally from Amman, Jordan. Upon hearing this, John eagerly launched into a discussion about restaurants and food in Amman and the foods that Alex carries in his little truck.

"Do you have lebne?" he asked. Alex nodded yes. "What about hummus?" Another nod, as John continued listing off items.
"We also have hot tea everyday," Alex said. "For free."
"With mint?!" John seemed to be barely containing himself.
"Of course!" Alex responded.
And just then, our orders were called up. My lengua taco came on two fresh, hot corn tortillas with plenty of cilantro, which I quickly doctored up with some creamy salsa verde that sat on the truck's ledge. It tasted like the wonderful ají amarillo sauce at Pollo Bravo, all spicy jalapeno and olive oil and a pinch of salt.

The sauteed tongue nearly melted in my mouth, a wonderful sensation that tasted almost like someone had made lengua butter and spread it on the hot tortillas. And although I'd been wary of ordering a chicken quesadilla (I'm pretty much a tacos and tortas kind of girl), it was equally good. But I noticed it had a distinct Middle Eastern quality about it.
The chicken tasted like shawarma-style chicken, seasoned with plenty of garlic and hints of cinnamon and nutmeg playing at the edges. It made me even more excited to come back here on one of these cool Spring evenings and try Alex and Roberto's real specialties.

And as much as I enjoy the chef-driven, gourmet taco trucks that have sprung up around town, there's a lot to be said for this kind of adventurous, cuisine-spanning spirit in a simple little taco truck off Hillcroft.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Nashville Red Cross to cater to religious dietary needs

The American Red Cross learned a few lessons from last year's catastrophic flood, including the growing religious diversity of Middle Tennessee and the food needed to honor those different ways of worship.

The result is a push by the charity to find vendors that can supply kosher meals for the area's Jewish population and halal meat for Middle Tennessee's Muslims.

It is part of an ongoing effort by the Red Cross to take more note of what different populations eat in order to better prepare for disasters.

"In a disaster, there are very limited resources, but we try to plan menus to accommodate as best as we can," said Joel Sullivan, CEO of the local chapter of the American Red Cross, which serves 17 counties surrounding Nashville. "We learned during the flood that there are dietary needs out there that there wasn't a demand for in this area before."

In the months after the flood, staff at the Red Cross have been calling community leaders to get advice on how they could have better responded.

Food was a popular topic.
The local Red Cross' primary meal suppliers are Second Harvest Food Bank and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. They are looking for more vendors, especially those that can in a pinch supply meat-free and ethnic foods.

Kosher meals are prepared by Jewish standards, including the way an animal is slaughtered. Of the 8,000 Jewish people in greater Nashville, about 500 have strict kosher diets, said Rabbi Saul Strosberg of Congregation Sherith Israel on West End Avenue.

Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel of Chabad Nashville said he applauds the effort. The day the flood hit, Tiechtel and volunteers from Chabad Nashville delivered to shelters more than 300 kosher meals that had been prepared for an event that day.

"The Red Cross raises money from the general public, so the food it serves should be available to the general public," Tiechtel said.
Shelter is concern
Amir Arain, public relations director for the Islamic Center of Nashville, regularly buys meats from area restaurants that supply the center with halal meats, which are also slaughtered in a specific way. Most Muslims, per their religion, will eat anything in a disaster situation, he said.

Arain said there are 25,000 Muslims living in Middle Tennessee.

Arain's primary concern is for emergency shelter. Women must stay in a separate area, he said.

Santosh Kortian is the manager of Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine on West End Avenue.

During the flood, he sent money and vegetarian foods to shelters. The India Association of Nashville called him to send meals.

He said he hopes to never have to be in a situation in which he has to decide whether to compromise his vegetarianism in an emergency. Like Strosberg, Arain and Tiechtel, he appreciates the preparedness.

"It's impressive," Strosberg said. "They did such a good job that people are complaining about the food. That means they covered all the necessary ground."

Courtesy by:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reputation of Halal Monitoring Committee of UK at Risk by Abusive Companies

Before the credible organisation took root in Muslim areas and began to proactively monitor and regulate the halal meat industry in the UK, one could not actually be sure whether the meat being sold as ‘halal’ was actually halal; or that it met the stringent demands of being Halal, from cradle to plate.
Expose after expose of malpractice and profiteering, by unscrupulous business men, had led many Muslims to either leave eating meat altogether, or feel deeply suspicious and apprehensive whenever eating meat.
So when the HMC label started appearing on shop windows, Muslims then knew with confidence, that a high level of scrutiny was taking place, by a credible organisation and they were willing to pay the difference in cost for peace of mind.

Many Muslims will now ONLY eat at HMC certified outlets, or outlets that source their meat from the HMC abattoirs and slaughterhouses; due to their trust in the brand and firm knowledge that it is not a profit driven organisation, manned largely by volunteers and overlooked by a body of authentic scholars.
So reports in the BBC of HMC bullying shops come as a surprise to many Muslims, given their reputation and standing within the community.
Now herein lies a problem, at first many meat shops and fast food outlets shunned HMC as a fad and refused to pay the paltry sum demanded, but when foot flow began to go elsewhere, a few began to change their mind and paid up. However, others have now began to ‘FAKE’ the HMC status, by having either amateur signs, or telling their customers that they are HMC certified, when they are not. Many cases of this have been uncovered in recent months.
HMC however, deny that they have been involved in any kind of bullying tactics or shaming retailers. There is no evidence other than statements by greedy, disgruntled shopkeepers who may not want to pay a few extra pence per chicken, or those disgusting retailers who deliberately try to pass haram meat for halal, and are now being found out.

Courtesy by:

HDC signs 12 MoUs with Global Halal trade organizations

Karachi–The Halal Development Council of Pakistan (HDC) has made a major headway in associating the country products, industry and business with the global Halal economy currently being emphasized by the Muslim Ummah for lawful as well as good quality products, said Asad Sajjad, Secretary General, HDC.

Asad said that HDC has recently signed 12 memorandum of understanding (MOU) with acclaimed international Halal Certification Authorities, Research Centres, and Scientific Laboratories of Far East, South Africa, America and Europe for developing and promoting Pakistan as a major exporter of Halal goods and services to the global markets. The international organizations will offer support to HDC in maintaining the integrity of Halal products, to support in mainstreaming of Halal products for competing in the global market and to promote Halal certified products & services in Pakistan and OIC countries.

The MoUs signed by the HDC are with International Halal Integrity Alliance of Malaysia; Crescent rating Pte of Singapore; Department of Science and Technology of Philippines; Faroogh Sciences Research Lab of Iran; Halal Council of Mauritius; Muslim Judicial Halal Trust of South Africa; N.Z. Islamic Meat Management Co. of New Zealand; Halal Polaska of Poland; The Halal Catering Co of Argentina; Ethnic Focus Research of UK, Mufti’s Council of Russia and OnePure Beauty Company of Canada.

“Signing of MOUs with HDC by the renowned global organizations working for the trillion dollar global Halal economy reflect their commitment and support for the promotion of Halal goods and services from Pakistan and to take the International Halal movement forward from the platform provided by HDC..” said Asad Sajjad.

It may be mentioned that the HDC made the major breakthrough by organizing the 1st Global Halal Congress last month which succeeded in registering Pakistan as a potential player in the trillion dollar global Halal economy. Dr. Mustafa Ceric, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia, Malaysian State Minister of Trade & Religious Affairs and other eminent personalities from Far East, Africa, Europe, UK, USA and Canada participated in the Congress and shared their views and knowledge with the local leaders of trade, industry and policy makers.

Courtesy By: Pakistan Observer

Friday, January 21, 2011

Maple Leaf Farms Halal Duck Now Available to Purchase Online

Milford, IN, January 21, 2011 --( Maple Leaf Farms Halal Whole Duck is now available for purchase online on the company’s website. Once available only to the foodservice industry, Halal Duck is now offered to consumers online and in limited retail stores.

Maple Leaf Farms Halal Whole Duck is a high quality USDA Grade A all-natural, farm-raised whole bird that has been certified by Islamic Services to comply with the principles and values of the Muslim community. The Halal Duck comes with giblets and a neck stuffed inside.

For more product information or to order Halal Duck online, visit the Maple Leaf Farms duck product page at

About Maple Leaf Farms:
Maple Leaf Farms, Inc. is America's leading producer of quality duck products, supplying retail and foodservice markets throughout the world with innovative, value-added foods. Founded in 1958, Maple Leaf Farms is a third generation family-owned company. For more information and delicious duck recipes.

Courtesy By:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ramiz Hasanov: “Azerbaijan has not determined “halal” standard yet”

Baku. Shahriyar Alizadeh – APA. “Azerbaijan has not determined “halal” standard yet”, chairman of the State Committee on Standardization, Metrology and Patent Ramiz Hasanov told journalists, APA reports.

He said it was disputed issue. “We addressed all Muslim countries, but there are some problems. The mark of “halal” on any good is a trade mark and it has no any significance”.

Concerning the quality of foods, the committee chairman said there were problems with bakery production and sanctions were imposed against more than one hundred bakeries last year.

Ramiz Hasanov said much work has been done for coordination of Azerbaijani standards with European standards. “We try to make our standards recognized in Europe. There is a presidential order on this issue. We adopted 162 standards last year. Azerbaijan exports jams, juices to Europe now”.

Row brewing over halal meat regulation

An organisation which licenses companies dealing in halal meat has been accused of bullying the firms it regulates.
The Halal Monitoring Committee (HMC) was set up in 2003 in Leicester, with the aim of carrying out inspections in abattoirs and meat wholesalers and to monitor butchers. In return the businesses would be given a HMC licence - and pay a monthly fee.
Some retailers have complained the HMC is too heavy-handed, uses bullying tactics to get them to join the scheme and are just in it to make money.
But the HMC said it existed to give people peace of mind over quality of food, that it wanted to protect high standards and was not bullying anyone.

Mehboob Ayub, who has a butcher's shop in Huddersfield, alleged that HMC inspectors threatened him, tried to damage his property and told people in the local mosque not buy his meat.
"They tried to push me in my shop and argue with me, they tried to take my posters down and have been telling people in the local mosque not to buy meat from my shop," Mr Ayub said.
"I buy my meat from a HMC-registered slaughterhouse, my wholesaler has a HMC licence, so why should I pay them £30 a week to sell the meat? They just want money."
The HMC denies his claims, saying it does not go into mosques and "shame" retailers.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Halal meat: are you eating it without choosing it?

British public has no idea that they are eating halal meat, a senior member of the Church of England’s governing body said yesterday.

In comments likely to spark controversy, Alison Ruoff said, ‘this is just another back door way to the Islamification of our country.”

Livestock destined for halal meat is dispatched in a process that involves the animal being prayed over by a Muslim butcher as its throat is cut. Some religious abattoirs do no stun the animal, as Sharia law stipulate that the animal must hear the prayer. It’s estimated that it can take around 30 seconds to die.

Alison Ruoff continued: “We are still a Christian country in that 71% of people in the UK believe in a Christian God, not a Muslim God.”*

The interview on Premier Christian Radio’s Woman to Woman show yesterday tackled the issue of unlabelled halal meat being sold to unsuspecting customers in supermarkets; an issue that affect people of all faiths, and not just Christians.
Ruoff revealed that most stores stock halal lamb only, with Morrisons being the only store to label their products.

She believes that most meat imported from New Zealand is halal, enabling them to sell on to Muslim markets. She alleged that economically it’s cheaper to butcher the animals in the same way, rather than halal and non-halal.

Joy Barrow, Interfaith Relations Officer said: ”No person should be made to eat halal meat. Clearly it’s an issue of labelling.”

However, a Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “The specifications we give to our lamb suppliers relate to the safety, legality, quality, hygiene, animal welfare standards and product packaging for our lamb. We do not ask or check for compliance with any specific halal requirements, so couldn’t robustly support any halal claim on our packaging.”
Although when asked to explain a previous Sainsbury’s Head Office claim that all meat is halal, a later statement said, “In the case of lamb, Sainsbury’s purchases it from suppliers that use halal licensed abattoirs, which adhere to our strict quality and animal welfare standards.”
A Morrisons spokesperson said, “We only sell 100% British fresh beef, lamb and poultry. None of it is halal. The vast majority of our fresh beef and lamb is processed at our own abattoirs in Britain.  We adhere to high standards of animal welfare.  All of the cattle, lamb and poultry are stunned prior to slaughter.
However they went on to say: “Our own label frozen lamb is currently sourced from New Zealand and is halal, the animal is humanely stunned before slaughter and a prayer is read. We sell a limited range of halal and Kosher-branded frozen food products which are all clearly labelled as such.”

Peter Kerridge, CEO of Premier Christian Media Group said, “This is clearly a matter for concern. If meat were labelled properly people would have an educated choice on whether to eat halal meat or not. The British public, whatever religion they are, have a right to decide for themselves.”

Courtesy by: Inspire Magazine

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Selangor sets up RM10m fund for Muslims affected by new guideline on non-halal jobs

The Selangor government today announced that it was allocating RM10 million to help train and provide capital for Muslim workers in the state who are doing non-halal (not permissible in Islam) jobs.
A statement issued by the Selangor Menteri Besar's press secretariat here today said the government symphatised with the plight of Muslims who worked in factories producing alcoholic drinks or outlets where liquor was sold.
Among the businesses the workers would be trained in are tailoring, beauty  salon operations, cooking and reparing of handphones, the statement added.
Those interested can contact any officer from the sectoral division of the state economic planning unit at 03-5544 7115/7965 or visit the division's office at the 5th Floor of Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, Shah Alam.
The announcement comes in the wake of guidelines under Selangor Syariah law enactments which prohibit Muslims in partaking in any non-halal job.

Courtesy by: Malay Mail

Monday, January 17, 2011

What the Hell Is Halal? (Hint: Heavenly)

One of the biggest complaints about Seattle's light-rail system is the distance between stops. If you live between two stations, it's a bit of a schlep--a miserable experience on a rainy day. As someone who mostly rides the train for the food, it means that I see dozens of restaurants that pique my curiosity but which are a longer haul from my stop than my level of hunger is usually willing to wait.
But it's time those cafes (and my post-holiday muffin top) got some attention. The stretch between the Columbia City station and the Othello is especially rich with diverse food possibilities--Chinese, African, Vietnamese, and barbecue line Martin Luther King Jr. Way. So from the latter, I jumped off and headed north.
The Cafe: While riding light rail, a sign I see frequently is "Halal," usually followed by some descriptor like "African Meats." Frustrated by my own ignorance, I found myself under the bright, welcoming sign at Moga's Market (6727-B MLK Jr. Way S., 723-3588).
Inside were shelves of culinary basics: flour, sugar, and the like. Racks of clothing filled an adjacent room. Hanging from the racks were the burqas and hijab headdresses worn by the women chatting at the counter. There were also stands filled with long beautiful skirts that made me wish I were six inches taller. But there was no sign of these halal meats, so finally I asked.

"Halal is from God," one of the women at the counter explained. "At Safeway, that meat isn't Halal. Like Allah."
With the language barrier making details a little difficult, I did some Wikipedia sleuthing back home. Based on the Internet encyclopedia and my conversation at Moga's, it appears Halal is a designation similar to kosher. Halal meat is slaughtered in a ritual method known as dhabiha.
"And you sell Halal meat here?" I asked the woman, glancing around the store.
"It's in the back, we cut it," she replied. "Do you want beef? Goat? Chicken?"
I ordered a pound of halal steak and another woman headed for the back. 15 minutes later she returned with a gorgeous red chunk of beef that looked well over a pound. "$3.99," she said.

I don't think I've ever paid that little for such pretty meat.

Courtesy by: Seattle Weakly

Islamic finance growing in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is aiming to become a Central Asian hub for Islamic finance, with plans to launch its first corporate sukuk this year and a new Sharia-compliant bank.
"By attracting [foreign direct investment], a more effective role should be played by Islamic finance mechanisms," said Asset Issekeshev, the deputy prime minister and minister of trade and industry, who was in Abu Dhabi to announce that Astana, the Kazakh capital, would host this year's World Islamic Economic Forum, which takes place in June.
"The Kazakh government these days works very actively towards the practical introduction of Islamic finance tools within the country," Mr Issekeshev said.
Kazakhstan is seeking foreign investment to help diversify its economy into areas including petrochemicals, renewable energy, tourism and agriculture. The UAE and Kazakhstan also have "good potential" for cooperation on food security, Mr Issekeshev said.
Yerlan Baidaulet, the chief economic adviser at the Kazakh ministry of industry and new technologies, said the country had two prospective issuers for its flagship corporate sukuk, one a South East Asian company registered in Kazakhstan, and a local company.
"It's very important for us to create a regional centre for Islamic finance," Mr Baidaulet said, adding that the sukuk would be sold internationally. He said he expected it to be issued within the next two to three months.
Mr Issekeshev added that Kazakhstan could open its second Islamic bank this year, after the opening there last year of a branch of Al Hilal Islamic Bank, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council.
Astana has courted the UAE in the past, with ventures including the US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) Al Falah Fund, which invests directly in oil and gas projects in Kazakhstan.
Foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan is the second-highest among member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States after Russia, with $122bn worth of inflows since 1993, Mr Issekeshev said. There has also been some direct investment from Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
The Kazakh government is also seeking investment in renewable energy to tap the country's wind and solar potential.
"We have to admit that we are learning, but Kazakhstan has a vast potential in renewable sources of energy," said Askar Mussinov, the country's ambassador to the UAE.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Non-Muslim countries hold $580 million Halal food market

FAISALABAD  (January 15, 2011) : Halal food market of $580 million is in the hands of non-Muslims as they cater to the needs of 2 billion Muslim consumers around the world. Pakistan needs to harness the potential of exporting Halal food to Muslim consumers as in the United States out of 9 million Muslims each person spends around $6 everyday on Halal food which is processed and handled by non-Muslims.

Addressing the participants of inaugural session of international seminar on Halal Food Production organised by National Institute of Food Science & Technology here in Nestle Hall on Friday morning, Professor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan, Vice Chancellor, University of Agriculture said OIC member countries used to make only 8% trade with each other against a vast potential and opportunities as all available food in Middle East is processed by the non-Muslims.

Dr Khan said this was a complete value chain of monitoring, capacity building, handling, storage, value-addition needed attention to produce Halal food. He was of the view that every year 3 millions Muslim lives remain at risk due to unavailability of Halal vaccine. Dr Khan urged the need for holding multi-disciplinary research by taking the religious scholars on board and to capitalise the vast trade potential.

Earlier, delivering a keynote address, Dr Winal Dahian, Director of the Halal Science Center, Chulalonghorn University Thailand said Muslim countries have ignored the significance of harnessing the trade potential of Halal food, thus Brazil, China, India, Thailand and Switzerland became the major players of the sector. Dr Dahian underscored the need to see the origin and various processes involve in producing Halal Food adding that sometime, a food stamped as Halal is not found Halal as they use Haaram ingredients in the food.

He emphasised the need to establish local Halal food certification system in Pakistan strictly bounded by Islamic traditions and principles to ensure complete adherence to Shariah requirements. Pakistan has potential to become a hub of global Halal food and could enjoy direct access to millions of consumers in Middle East, Central Asia and South East Asian countries. He emphasised that there was a need to strengthen the link between Pakistani public and private sector with international organisations to get benefits from their experience.

Earlier, GD NIFSAT Professor Dr Faqir Muhammad Anjum said that Agro-climatic condition of Pakistan ranges from tropical to temperate regions favours the growth of array of agricultural commodities. He said agricultural production is dominated by livestock and crop production, which accounts for 53.2 and 43.9% of agriculture's GDP, respectively.

To meet food deficit particularly in the case of edible oil, he said that the country has to continuously depend on imports. Besides agricultural crops as Pakistan is also blessed with a climate that is suitable for cultivation of a large variety of fruits and vegetables.

Courtesy by: Business Recorder

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Europe Goes Halal

The European Union, bowing to pressure from Muslim lobby groups, has quietly abandoned a new measure that would have required halal [religiously approved for Muslims] meat products to carry a label alerting consumers that the animals were not stunned, and therefore conscious, just before slaughter. With the exponential growth of Europe's Muslim population in recent years, thousands of tons of religiously slaughtered halal meat is now entering the general food chain, where it is being unwittingly consumed by the non-Muslim population.
Muslims have the right to choose halal foods, but non-Muslims do not have the right to choose not to eat the ritually slaughtered meat.
Halal, which in Arabic means lawful or legal, is a term designating any object or action that is permissible according to Islamic Sharia Law. In the context of food, halal meat is derived from animals slaughtered by hand according to methods stipulated in Islamic religious texts. One such method, called dhabihah, consists of making a swift, deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck that cuts the jugular vein, leaving the animal to bleed to death without stunning. Of vital importance, according to the Koran, is that the animal's blood flows from its body by "natural convulsion."
Many non-Muslim veterinary experts say the method is cruel and should be outlawed. In Britain, for example, the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), an advisory body to the British Government, says in a report that cutting an animal's throat without stunning induces "significant pain and distress." The FAWC also says: "Slaughter without pre-stunning is unacceptable and the Government should repeal the current exemption."
The British Veterinary Association (BVA) says: "The BVA believes that all animals should be effectively stunned before slaughter to improve the welfare of these animals at slaughter. However, as long as slaughter without stunning is permitted, the BVA has argued for any meat from this source to be clearly labelled to enable all consumers to fully understand the choice they are making."
Animal-welfare legislation in Europe requires that abattoirs stun all animals prior to slaughter unless they are being ritually killed according to the practices of a non-Christian religion. But critics say the religious slaughter exemptions are being abused and millions of cows, goats, turkeys and chickens are being slaughtered according to halal standards and then sold to unwitting, non-Muslim customers, providing producers with a large and profitable market.
In Britain alone, it is estimated that more than 150 million halal animals are killed each year. Critics say this number is far more than is needed by the Muslim community, and that the growing success of halal products in Europe is being driven by the fact that the non-Muslim public is unaware of the halal origins of the meat. They say the ability to sell halal meat products by stealth has opened up vast new markets across Europe, which, by extension, is leading to a huge increase in the number of animals slaughtered using halal methods. The European halal food market is currently valued at €50 billion ($67 billion), and is expected to grow by at least 25% by 2020.
Critics of halal say that by dropping the halal labelling requirement, the EU effectively is institutionalizing a discriminatory two-tier approach to identifying the origins of meats. This controversy, as with so many others, highlights the growing assertiveness of Europe's Muslim community, and demonstrates once again how the rise of Islam is stealthily overwhelming the daily lives of hundreds of millions of non-Muslim Europeans.
Amendment 205 to the EU food information regulations, passed by members of the European Parliament in June 2010 by a vote of 559 to 54, would have required all meat or meat products from animals slaughtered without stunning to be labelled as follows: "Derived from animals that have not been stunned prior to slaughter." Although halal meat is well labelled in specialist butcher shops and food outlets, the EU regulation would have alerted non-Muslim consumers to supplies entering the mainstream food system.
Not surprisingly, the move to require halal meat producers to provide consumers with more information on the packaging of their products has enraged Muslims, who claim that the move has little to do with animal welfare, and reflects a bias against Islam. In any event, halal slaughter is permitted in all but four European countries (Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland) and halal-related controversies are becoming increasingly commonplace.
In Britain, for example, a London Daily Mail investigation has found that the country's major supermarket chains, fast-food restaurants, even some hospitals and schools are serving halal food without telling those who are eating it. Cheltenham College, which boasts of its strong Christian ethos, is one of several top British schools serving halal chicken to pupils without informing them. Even Britain's biggest hotel and restaurant group Whitbread, which owns the Beefeater and Brewers Fayre chains, admits that more than three-quarters of its poultry is halal.
In London, the Harrow Council has provoked a storm of protest after announcing plans to offer Islamic halal-only menus in the borough's 52 state primary schools. Parents are outraged that meat prepared according to Sharia law is being pushed on non-Muslim children. In Derby, the Dale Primary School has only halal meat on the school menu for certain days of the week to avoid cross contamination with non-halal meat. In Blackburn, the Daisyfield Primary School has become the first non-Muslim school to become certified by the Halal Monitoring Committee.
In Birmingham, the Domino's pizza chain has opened a halal-only outlet that does not offer its customers ham or bacon. Critics say the new policy discriminates against non-Muslims. Domino's says it has "thought long and hard" about not offering pork products at the store, which serves an area with a large Muslim population. The company says there are "alternatives, such as turkey ham." Meanwhile, most of the in-flight meals on British Airways could soon be halal.
Also in Britain, the 2nd World Halal Forum Europe 2010 recently was held in London. The theme of the World Halal Forum Europe was: "Halal Products & Services -- Going Mainstream."
In Spain, Muslims have rejected efforts by the Spanish rail company RENFE to offer halal menus on its high-speed trains. The Muslim Council of Spain says it is not enough for RENFE to simply remove alcohol and pork from its menu. The company must also take into consideration how the animals are slaughtered, what type of oil is used in cooking, as well as comply with a list of other demands.
In Spain as a whole, the Muslim population has undergone an almost twenty-fold increase in just two decades and the internal market for halal products is now estimated to exceed 2 million consumers, in addition to the estimated 7 million Muslims who pass through Spain each year as they cross the Strait of Gibraltar to and from North Africa.
In Belgium, the Justice Ministry recently launched a pilot project to train prison guards, as well as doctors and nurses, about practical problems related to halal. Muslim inmates in Belgian prisons often refuse medication because it contains animal fat, and Muslim patients in Belgian hospitals sometimes refuse medical care during Ramadan. As part of its halal training efforts, the Justice Ministry commissioned a practical guide titled "Comprendre le halal" (Understanding halal).
Also in Belgium, the parents of children attending the De Kleine Kunstenaar kindergarten in the town of Houthalen recently signed a petition objecting to their children being forced to eat halal meat on a school trip. "Due to their religious beliefs, Muslims can only consume halal meat, but that does not mean our children must eat it," the petition says. The parents are asking for an alternative burger for their children, but the school says that request is "practically impossible."
In Denmark, an investigation found that thousands of tons of beef in Danish supermarkets are halal slaughtered. In Finland, a separate investigation found that McDonald's secretly served its Finnish customers chicken meat that was slaughtered according to Sharia Law.
In France, the Franco-Belgian fast-food chain, Quick, has removed bacon burgers from its menu and replaced them with a version using halal beef and a slice of smoked turkey. René Vandierendonck, the socialist mayor of the northern French city of Roubaix, says the move amounts to discrimination against non-Muslim customers. He has filed charges with justice authorities against Quick for what he says is prejudicial religious catering. He has also lodged a complaint with France's main anti-discrimination authority on the matter. Marine Le Pen, vice president of the National Front Party, says Quick's halal option is "an Islamic tax" on diners. Xavier Bertrand, secretary general of the ruling conservative Union for a Popular Majority (UMP) says Quick's menu change is undermining France's secular, integrationist social model.
Elsewhere in France, where the halal food sector has doubled in five years and is now valued at €5.5 billion ($7 billion), animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot says that 80% of French slaughterhouses are now halal because the method is cheaper and faster, and thus more profitable.
In Italy, the government in July 2010 signed an agreement with the Italian Islamic Community to establish a halal certifying organization. The Halal Italia certification scheme will guarantee compliance with Islamic laws for Italian food products such as tortellini and lasagne. The Italian market for halal is valued at €5 billion ($6.5 billion). Foreign Minister Franco Frattini says the Islamically-correct "Made in Italy" certification is designed to facilitate "the progressive integration of Muslim communities resident in Italy into the social fabric."
In Sweden, which has banned the religious slaughtering of animals since 1937, the Muslim Association of Sweden (SMF) is demanding that halal slaughter practices be legalized. SMF chairperson Mahmoud Aldebe says the Swedish government should respect the democratic rights of Sweden's Muslims to exercise their "religious freedoms" and help find a way to permit the practice.
In Holland, an elementary Catholic school in Weert decided to serve only halal food for its Christmas meal. The school has about 400 students, only ten of whom are Muslim. Margo Janssen, the school principal, says that serving only halal food for Christmas is a Christian thing to do because it puts others -- Muslims -- first.
Also in Holland, several Dutch prisons are now serving only halal food. The Dutch Justice Department says it is too expensive to offer prisoners both halal and non-halal menus, so it has decided to offer only halal food. The prison in the Dutch town of Sittard is now being sued by a prisoner; he says that by being forced to eat halal food, he is receiving extra punishment.

Courtesy by:hudson Newyork

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pork, Egg and Dog Meat Vendors Demand Court to Annul 'Halal' Requirement

Pork, egg and dog meat vendors are demanding the Constitutional Court annul an article in a law that requires all vendors to get “halal” certification.

The 2009 Animal Husbandry and Health Law states that all meat products distributed in Indonesia should have veterinarian and halal certificates.

“It is impossible to get a halal certificate for pork and dog-meat vendors,” Agus Prabowo, the lawyer of the applicants, said at the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.

He was representing egg vendor Deni Juhaeni, pork vendor I Griawan Wijaya and dog meat vendor Netty Retta Herawaty Hutabarat.

Pork and dog meat are haram, or not allowed, for Muslims, but chicken is allowed.

The problem posed by the law for the egg vendor, Agus said, was that the law obliged him “to have veterinarian and halal certificates for each egg that he sells.”

Chief Justice Fadlil Sumadi said the applicants should present a deeper arguments. “The request is pragmatic, but it would be better if the request is complete with thorough arguments and developed legal theories,” Sumadi said.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bardot group campaigns against halal animal slaughter

The Brigitte Bardot Foundation along with six other French animal rights groups last week launched a campaign against ritual slaughter practices that do not first stun the animal in France, the country with the largest Muslim and Jewish populations in Europe.
The new campaign immediately was assailed as being more about targeting minorities than about animal welfare. That's not a very surprising charge since Ms Bardot has been convicted five times before for controversial remarks about Muslims and animal rights.
But the spokesman for her foundation, Christophe Marie, denied that the campaign had any objective other than improving animal welfare. "It is ridiculous to say that we're targeting Muslims or Jews. We conduct this campaign like any other. It is like saying that we target the Spanish when we oppose bullfighting or the Inuit when we oppose seal hunting."
Mr Marie said it was "regrettable" that some anti-Muslim activists could latch on to the campaign. The campaign had been postponed several times, he said, because the foundation had not wanted to overlap with sensitive debates about Muslims in France, such as the introduction of a ban on the burqa.
The new campaign is mainly aimed at the animal being slaughtered without being stunned, either by a blow to the forehead or with electricity or gas. Stunning is required in Europe but an exception is made for ritual slaughter on grounds of respecting the freedom of religion. Both mainstream Jewish and Islamic religious authorities in France oppose stunning.
Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, last year clearly stated his opposition to the practice. Nonetheless, some halal-certifying bodies in France take a different position and stunning does sometimes take place. In Jewish circles there is even more opposition to the stunning of animals. "We maintain that stunning often goes wrong while our religious way causes minimal suffering to the animal," said Rabbi Bruno Fiszon, speaking on behalf of the chief rabbinate of France.
He said the new campaign targeted Jews and Muslims. "It shows them as cruel people who have no respect for animals." He felt that it particularly exacerbated anti-Muslim feelings in Europe.
Animal rights groups throughout Europe are opposed to the practice of slaughtering without stunning first. Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and New Zealand ban the practice. But not all those concerned about animal welfare applaud the new campaign.
"A ban antagonises people and is not the best way to go about it," said Mara Miele, the co-ordinator of DialRel, an EU-funded academic project that examined the issue. "If we ban it in Europe, it still continues elsewhere. We'd rather develop methods and procedures to improve animal welfare that can then be exported."
She did confirm that very recent scientific studies show that animals suffer more during religious slaughter, something that had long been disputed. But she said: "We have to balance the rights of people to practise their religion with the rights of animals." Inevitably, DialRel's work itself has been criticised by religious and animal-welfare groups.

Other than an outright ban on ritual slaughter or at least mandating stunning before the procedure, animal rights groups insist as a bare minimum on the clear labelling of meat and meat products that come from ritually slaughtered animals. They say that a significant proportion of kosher and halal meat ends up with general consumers.
"Consumers have a right to know what they are buying and not to buy meat from an animal that was slaughtered halal or kosher if they do not want to," said Mr Marie, the spokesman for the Brigitte Bardot Foundation.
A law to introduce such labelling was approved by the European parliament last year but was subsequently vetoed in the EU's ruling council of ministers. It was opposed vigorously by both Jews and Muslims.
Rabbi Fiszon said that labelling kosher and halal products would once again single out Muslims and Jews. Instead he suggested a labelling system not mentioning any method used to slaughter the animal, "because none of them entirely guarantee that the animal does not suffer". It is a position that has also been embraced by Muslim consumer organisations in France.

Monday, January 3, 2011

International Road Show For the Development of Halal Industry (Press Release)

January 03, 2011
(Lahore) Halal Research Council is pleased to organize a Road Show on Halal Industry starting from February 01, 2011. In the first phase of this road show, 150 seminars in different chambers of commerce, trade associations and industrial associations of Pakistan will be conducted for the awareness of Halal industry in the masses that will start on February 01, 2011 in Peshawar and will end up in Karachi on March 01, 2011. While in phase II, Halal research Council will hold awareness seminars on Halal industry in South Africa, Kenya, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Mauritius. The purpose of such awareness programs is to promote Halal industry in Pakistan and in the rest of the world.  This Road Show will enable the easy access of the Pakistani Export products to 2.3 Trillion Dollars’ international Halal Market of more than 2 billion Muslims.

Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal, Chief Executive Officer, Halal Research Council highlighted two main purposes of organizing this road show. One is the easy access of the Pakistani Halal products to the international Halal markets while the second objective is to give accurate knowledge of the Halal industry to the Muslims. He further elaborated that the chemical ingredients used in the production of Muslim food has put aside the distinction of Halal and haram in the products and the labeling of E codes has drastically put people in ambiguity whether the product is Halal or haram. It is very astonishing that even in Pakistan several food products are imported in which the fats of pig and many other haram ingredients are used.

He added that it is quite disappointing that Pakistan has no access yet in the export of Halal products in international 2.3 trillion Halal markets. If we pay heed to this market then we can earn a handsome profitability through this market because Pakistan has a prominent place in Muslim world for its sound Islamic footings. He told that Halal market covers more than 100 products i.e. meat, dairy, spices, gee and oil, beverages, medicines, biscuits, snacks, cosmetics, herbal and leather etc.

This awareness road show has been given high appreciation nationally and internationally and it has got more than 50 national, international, government and non government organizational associations. Halal Research Council is working nationally and internationally for the certification of Halal products.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fusan Named Domestic Distributer Of Brunei Halal Goods

Bandar Seri Begawan - Since mid-December, consumers can purchase Brunei Halal brand products from about 100 retail locations throughout the country, said a representative from its distributor.
Appointed distributor of Brunei Halal brand products in the domestic market, Fusan Enterprise is seeing a positive response from consumers for the products, said its manager, Anna Chiu.
"The response is pretty good, those supermarkets that we're distributing to, some have been taking repeat orders so we take that as a good response," said Anna yesterday in an exclusive interview with The Brunei Times.
With a three-year contract under their belts to distribute the Brunei Halal brand in collaboration with parent company Ghanim Inter-national Food Corporation Sdn Bhd, Fusan is currently supplying to approximately 100 locations.
"(The entire range of products) are now in the kedai runcit (grocery stores) but there are too many of them so we didn't really publicise that. Last week when I checked, we were distributing to about 80 outlets but this week, its gone up to over 100 outlets," she said, which also includes major supermarket chains like Hua Ho, Supa Save and all their existing outlets.
The company began distributing in mid-December, added Anna, and has even approached restaurants and hotels, apart from supermarkets and small retail shops. "I knew they were looking for a distributor, so I approached them to just let them know what we could do for them as a distributor," she said of how the collaboration came about.
While Fusan Enterprise will not be taking part in the current Brunei Grand Salebration, Anna said the prices for the Brunei Halal brand products are affordable "and are on average" with the market price of similar products on the market.
Since the launch of the brand in September, Ghanim had already executed several promotional campaigns to introduce its products to the domestic market including Weekend and Weekly Specials as well as a Hari Raya Hamper Sale with hampers priced from $55 to $125.
Fusan will also be working with Ghanim on promotional activities for Brunei Halal said Anna, adding, "We will work with them on the marketing side and do some sampling promotions in supermarkets but all this has to be approved by Ghanim."
Anna said she is positive that the brand will be well-received due to the "halal" factor, saying that Ghanim had gone through "all the proper processes of getting certified halal". "So, it's trustworthy," she added.
Consumers can also visit the brand's website at to peruse a list of products which includes a detailed list of ingredients.
In a previous report published by The Brunei Times, Ghanim CEO Noel Shield had also described Brunei Halal Brand as a "People's Brand".
Ghanim International is the company appointed by His Majesty's Government to handle and manage the marketing of Brunei's premium halal brand which takes advantage of the country's reputation in selling goods to growing Muslim markets.

Courtesy of The Brunei Times