Friday, October 31, 2014

What's the big fuss about Halal certification?

Increased trade with the Middle East and South East Asia means Halal certification is a booming business in Australia.
The sector is projected to be worth $1.6 trillion worldwide by 2050, and Australian food exporters are racing to get into the market.
I think Australia is quite proud of its ability to produce Halal meat to international requirements, while doing it in a humane way.
Halal food has been prepared according to Islamic law, and is free from pork products, alcohol and certain other ingredients. A variety of Islamic groups are involved in Halal certification, with companies who wish their products to carry a Halal label paying fees for inspection and certification.
According to beef industry journalist Jon Condon, Halal certification is widespread in Australia and can be a big money earner for meat processors.
'What it means is when the various body parts are divided up it gives those export meat works the flexibility to sell certain items, including meat cuts and offal, into Halal markets.'
'In some cases, it can be the highest paying markets, so it's all part of finding the optimum market for each individual item.'
Mr Condon says Australia has a good reputation in terms of its ability to meet Halal requirements.
'We are able to sell Halal certified products into the Middle East, South East Asia and other communities around the world.'
'I think Australia is quite proud of its ability to produce Halal meat to international requirements, while doing it in a humane way.'
This certification process has angered a small number of consumers, however. Kirralie Smith is the founder of Halal Choices and does not support Halal labelling. Ms Smith and other anti-Halal activists claim certification fees are being directed to mosques which aim to impose Sharia law in Australia. She says her objections are not about racism, however.
'There are companies wanting to make a lot of money out of it,' says Ms Smith.
'A lot of these companies are just paying the certification because they don't want the hassle.'
Dr Muhammad Khan, the CEO of Halal Australia, says there is nothing wrong with money from Halal certification going to mosques.
'It is absolutely not necessary to talk about this subject matter,' he says.
'Don't [Kosher certification organizations] fund their own synagogues? Why can't the Islamic certification body give donations to mosque projects?'
Mr Khan says accusations of secrecy are misguided, and the Halal certification process is helping the Australian economy grow.
The Byron Bay Cookie Company, which has been certified Halal for 10 years, recently became the target of anti-Halal campaigners, who objected to the company's Anzac biscuits carrying the Halal label.
'It hasn't been easy, we've had a lot of calls and emails that have been quite aggressive where we have had to ask the police to step in,' the company's CEO, Keith Byrne, told ABC News.
'We as an iconic brand have been targeted but ultimately if people look at any major producer will typically have Halal depending on the countries they supply too.'
Like meat processors who say Halal is no different to certification for grain-fed and grass-fed cattle, Mr Byrne compares Halal to gluten-free labelling.
'The Halal company that certifies us is based in Sydney, they come and they audit us and then they go away again, they don't bless our foods, they don't bless our site, there's no religious context to it, they check our hygiene and they check that there's no alcohol there.'
What is Halal?
Halal is an Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. In reference to food, it is the dietary standard, as prescribed in the Koran.
By official definition, Halal foods are those that are:
1. Free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law.
2. Processed, made, produced, manufactured and/or stored using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that have been cleansed according to Islamic law.
All foods are considered Halal except the following:
-Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
-Non-Halal animal fat
-Enzymes (microbial enzymes are permissible)
-Gelatin from non-Halal source (fish gelatin is Halal)
-L-cysteine (if from human hair)
-Lipase (only animal lipase need be avoided)
-Non-Halal animal shortening
-Pork products
-Unspecified meat broth
-Rennet (All forms should be avoided except for plant, microbial and synthetic rennet, as well as rennet obtained from Halal slaughtered animals)
-Stock (mixed species broth or meat stock)
-Tallow (non-Halal species)
-Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
-Foods contaminated with any of the above products

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry

The Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry is intended to impart the comprehensive knowledge on Halal Industry in its true sense and concept to the people which are either related or not to the Halal Industry or even from the other professions.

The purpose of this diploma is to equip the graduates with the Shariah principles on Halal Industry fulfilling the global needs of human resources and to produce well equipped professionals with the accurate learning of Halal and Certification concepts.

The aim of the diploma is to provide educational facilities and training to people who cannot leave their homes or offices/jobs or to facilitate to the masses for their learning uplift under Halal Industry.

The course serves the society by providing affordable and accessible learning through a quality technical and technology support. Distance learning to the people around the globe will be provided disseminating the useful knowledge on the Halal Industry, acquiring professional skills for the development of new products and ethical disposition.

This course consists of four modules and each module is of 2 months duration. Each Module builds up on knowledge from the previous one. You will be evaluated by subjective as well as multiple choice question on each lesson. Modules are sent by post which includes the introductory material set.

Your course Material consists of:
·         Literature & Presentations in PDF format
·         Video CD’s & Power Point Presentations
·         Solved and unsolved case studies.
·         Books in PDF format, List of references Book and related websites.

The introductory material set includes comprehensive Power Point Presentations, literature on the topic, useful web links, magazine & newspapers, articles and conference papers on Islamic banking and finance as well as recommended reading list. Students also utilize the Knowledge Centre section of AlHuda CIBE website ( The next module material is sent after the successful completion of the previous module. The course content of the first module will be sent by courier while the other course content will be sent by email.

This diploma would be of 8 months which will consist of 4 Modules and each module would consist of 2 courses.

In first Module, concepts of Halal and General Guidance about Halal Food would be taught whereas Role of Food Ingredients and Halal Slaughtering in second Module, prospective of Halal Industry worldwide and Halal banking in third Module and Halal Standardization and prospective of Halal Industry in developed Area will be taught in fourth module.

It should be clear that Halal Food Industry is flourishing at a very rapid pace and its volume has reached to 2.3 Trillion Dollars. It is expected that this diploma would provide strong pillars to Halal Food industry on practical bases.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halal Certification: A Gateway to Export Markets

The Halal food market is expected to be worth US$1.6 trillion globally by 2018. With an average growth rate of 6.9 percent a year, it’s a sector that cannot be ignored, especially by food manufacturers keen to make their mark internationally.
While many manufacturers may question the value of gaining certification in Australia, where the Muslim community represents a relatively small proportion of the nation’s population, those companies looking to broaden their horizon beyond Australia’s shores would be well versed in the importance of meeting Halal criteria.
What is Halal?
Derived from the Koran, Islam’s book of faith, the word ‘Halal’ literally means ‘lawful’ or ‘acceptable’.
Dr Muhammad Khan, chief executive officer at Halal Australia, a certification and accreditation company, told Food mag the best way to understand what Halal is, is to understand what Halal is not.
“As a general rule of thumb, everything is Halal except what has been described as not Halal.
“’Haram’ means ‘prohibited’ or ‘unlawful’, so products like swine or pork and its bi-products, and animals which are not properly slaughtered or they die before slaughtering, are not accepted as Halal. So the blood is prohibited. Obviously alcoholic drinks and intoxicants are also not Halal; carnivorous animals such as lions, tigers and monkeys are not Halal, and certain other animals like scorpions, snakes and things like that - they are not Halal.
“However, when it comes to processed foods, if it is contaminated with any of the products that I’ve mentioned, or their derivatives, including emulsifiers like 471 or 472, and also gelatin, they are not Halal,” Khan says.
Certification is about ensuring these ingredients aren't included in the manufacture of food products, and haven’t contaminated the manufacturing process in some way, for example, by being used on the same production line as non-Halal products or ingredients.
With Halal certification being more about what isn't included in the product than what is, a product could be deemed Halal without the manufacturer even realizing or intending it to be. However, if that product is – or one day could be – destined for an export market, certification is worth considering, if not essential.
Why gain certification?
Similar to organic and kosher certification, Halal certification guarantees Muslim consumers that the product has been grown/reared, processed and manufactured in a certain way.
Dalene Wray, general manager at OBE Organic, a certified organic and Halal producer and exporter of beef, says certification allows companies to access new markets around the world.

“From a manufacturing point of view, it gives the manufacturer or the producer of the product more opportunities for sales of their product globally, if its Halal certified.
“There are markets around the world that you can’t export to unless you have Halal certification. So those would include the Middle East, Indonesia, Malaysia and to some extent Singapore. However, what we’ve found is that our Halal certification is advantageous to all markets we export to around the world, even though to clear customs you don’t need it.
“For example the US. We don’t need Halal certification to clear the US government customs, however we’ve found that the end users of our product in retail in America are Muslim consumers and they want our product to be Halal certified,” Wray says.
She adds that certification allows OBE Organic to capitalize on the Australian government’s efforts to build relationships with certain export markets.
“We can take advantage of a lot of the activities that the federal and state government is doing to build relationships in those markets … and also we’ve got the Queensland government doing trade visits to the Middle East, so [we’re] really capitalizing on a huge growth trend in opportunities in the Middle East markets.”
According to a report commissioned by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, the global Halal market is expected to be worth US$1.6 trillion by 2018, up from US$1.1 trillion in 2013. Halal food made up 16.6 percent of the total world food market in 2013, and by 2018 this is expected to rise to 17.4 percent.
The Muslim population represents roughly 23 percent of the global community – or 1.8 billion people - and is growing at a rate of about three percent per annum, says Halal Australia’s Mohammed Khan.
But certification isn't all about servicing Muslim consumers or benefiting export markets; Australians – regardless of their faith or background – can benefit from the growing Halal market too, he says.
“A lot of companies are happy to seek certification because they see it as adding value to the company, something that bring a lot of money and that also can increase the employability of Australians. Companies can sell a lot more products than they would normally sell [if they’re Halal] and that obviously increases the demand for employment.
“It’s a win/win situation for everybody. Even if one person is employed by a company, and that person is a bread winner and either he or she can support their family in the Halal way – Halal means in a lawful way – it’s good.”
Spreading the word
Gaining certification is only one half of the equation, says Lisa Mabe, founder of Hewar Social Communications, a PR consultancy specializing in the global speciality food market.

“If you make the effort and spend time and money to earn certification, why would you not target the very people who are looking for that certification?” she says.
Mabe told Food mag that manufacturers exporting to regions with Muslim populations tend to focus on their relationships with retailers rather than the end users. They’re relying on distributors in foreign markets to market the product’s certification on the manufacturer’s behalf, but the message often doesn't get through, she says.
“In terms of reaching consumers, I don’t see many products doing much at all … I really think there’s a lack of understanding of the potential of those markets,” she says.
OBE Organic is a client of Mabe’s, and is one of few Australian brands to actively promote its Halal certification both here and abroad. The company even has a separate Facebook page dedicated to targeting Muslim consumers.
“A lot of business that we do is private label, which means that the retailer puts their own label on the product, and they may or may not choose to identify the product as Halal certified. Our job then is a little more difficult, and we have to articulate that message through our marketing, which is mostly done through social media,” Wray says.
“So we have a dedicated Facebook page just for marketing to Muslim consumers. We don’t know of any other food or beef company in Australia that has two Facebook pages: one for marketing to the world and one specifically for communicating with and sharing content that’s relevant to Muslim consumers.”
Content includes recipes, conversations about the Islamic holy month, Ramadan, and discussions regarding festivals celebrated in Middle Eastern communities.
Wray agrees with Maybe that Australian manufactures which have gained certification aren't promoting it as effectively as they could, or should.
“OBE is one of the few companies in Australia that is leveraging and marketing the fact that our product is Halal. We make a big deal of it; it’s all over our homepage,” she says. “There are not many other companies around the world that can produce certified organic beef that’s also Halal certified.
“I don’t know if I could even count the number [of brands] on one hand that actively promote the fact that their product is Halal,” she says.
Mabe came to Australia from the US about 18 months ago, and was surprised by the number of brands that had certification, however very few of them were communicating it to consumers.
“It’s a missed opportunity,” she says, especially considering Australia already has a reputation overseas for being a clean, safe food manufacturer.
Put the trust that this ‘clean and green’ reputation creates together with the reassurance that certification provides to a growing, potentially lucrative demographic, and Australian manufacturers are in an enviable position.
“[Muslim consumers] trust that if it’s from Australia, it’s safe. With its reputation of producing clean and safe food, Australia is in a unique position to not only participate in, but also lead in the Halal food market,” Maybe says.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Organic Halal Meats Get Muslims Thinking About What It Really Means To Eat Religiously

The Prophet Muhammad advised his followers to treat animals with kindness and, if needed, kill them mercifully for food. And he didn’t mince words.
“Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment,” the Prophet reportedly said.
Remembering these instructions, New York farmer Zaid Kurdieh says much of the meat that brands itself as halal, or religiously permissible, is nothing but a sham.
For Kurdieh, if it’s not organic, it’s not halal.
“Most people associate halal with slaughter. But that’s just the end of the process,“ the 50-year-old Norwich farmer told the Huffington Post. “All animals have a right to live to a certain age, to eat good food, get good treatment. All of those things constitute halal.”
The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a halal certification organization, estimates that the U.S. halal market is worth at least $20 billion. And the industry is expected to grow, the AP reports.
Muslims like Kurdieh are now thinking deeply about how the recommendations the Prophet gave his followers centuries ago fit in with today’s fast-paced, global food markets.
For meat to be halal, animals are required to be killed by hand using a sharp knife, with a single slash to the throat. The person doing the killing should ideally be a Muslim who utters God’s name as the animal exhales its last breath. The practice is intended to make sure the creatures die swiftly and without much pain.
Death matters, of course. But quality of life matters, too.
“I don’t want to eat animals that were systematically abused their whole lives," Nuri Friedlander, a Muslim chaplain at Harvard University, told the Daily Beast. "From a spiritual practice, I didn’t want to get that into my body."
That's why some Muslims are beginning to look past the halal label and examine where exactly their meat is coming from.
Kurdieh is the managing owner of Norwich Meadows Farm, a small, certified organic company that raises chicken and turkey, while sourcing their lamb and beef from trusted local family farms. None of their animals are given growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified foods crammed with animal byproducts. The creatures are raised outdoors and grass-fed, given the space to roam and grow at their own pace.
“When you take an animal out of the wild, you’re responsible for its eating, its drinking, whatever it needs,” Kurdieh said. “It’s a tenet of our religion.”
This philosophy is maintained by Honest Chops, a halal butcher shop in New York City that cuts up hand-slaughtered, ethically-raised beef and chicken.
Along with the word halal, Chops co-founder Imam Khalid Latif says the Koran uses the word “tayyib” when it talks about what kinds of foods Muslims should eat. Tayyib means something that is pure or clean.
“There’s a lot of unhygienic, unethical practices taking place,” Latif told the Huffington Post. “Animals are being fed excrements and processed carcasses of their own species. They’re lodged on top of each other with no room to walk. It’s disgusting and inhumane.”
Honest Chops has pledged an “Honest to God Guarantee” that its meats are grass-fed and raised in a way that conforms to Islam’s guidelines. They’ve also promised to pay workers “dignified” wages and give back to the community.
During this year’s Eid Al Adha holiday, which falls on Oct. 4, Honest Chops launched an Udhiya/Qurbani campaign. For Eid, Muslims are encouraged to offer an animal as a sacrifice in remembrance of God’s mercy towards Abraham, then offer portions of the meat to charity.
Latif said that the 2014 campaign will help feed 200 local families in need.
But conscious eating comes with a price. Kurdieh said his customers often experience “sticker shock” when they see the prices of his meats.
“A pound of chicken at the green markets is $7, while they’re buying industrial chicken at $1.50,” the farmer said. “A lot of education has to happen before this becomes a widespread movement.”
For Latif, change starts with understanding that worship happens in a “framework of selflessness.”
“People have to understand that being Muslim isn’t something that just benefits them, but also brings benefit to the society around them,” Latif said. “It’s understanding that you have something to give back.”