Thursday, May 28, 2015

America’s Halal Food Festival Back in Toronto

TORONTO – Reflecting the growth of the halal demand in the west, the largest halal food festival in North America is set for May 30 and 31 at the International Centre in the Greater Toronto Area.
“We’re extremely excited to be bringing Halal Food Fest back for a third year,” Salima Jivraj, founder of Halal Food Fest, told
“Almost a fifth of last year’s visitors were tourists from all across North America, which reflects the increase in demand for halal products, and shows that the event has really become a destination for people looking to sample and learn about halal food options.”
Over 27,000 visitors attended the Halal Food Fest in 2014 and organizers are expecting a larger turnout this year from across the US and Canada. One-third of last year’s attendees were under 16.
The event brings dozens of food exhibitors, in-house chefs, and guest chefs, including Master Chef Canada runner-up Marida Mohammed, together for two days of sampling and programming focused on halal food.
Canada’s halal food market is currently estimated to be a $1 billion industry, and the demand for halal options has increased along with Canada’s Muslim population, which grew 82 per cent over the last decade, and is expected to triple by 2031.
In addition to the halal food exhibitors, there will also a shopping area and a 5,000 square foot playground for kids.
Main stage events will include a cake decorating competition, sushi demonstration, and live performances.
An outdoor area will feature a halal Rib Fest and a Grill Master competition, which pits amateur barbecue home chefs against each other.
Diverse Society
Held in Toronto for the third consecutive year, the halal food festival reflects the diversity of the Canadian Muslim community.
“Halal Food Fest is a celebration of Toronto’s diverse and delicious food trends, and we are thrilled to be sharing in this experience with the community,” Shilo Balgobin, Marketing Manager, Mina Foods, told
“Mina is proud to support the growing needs of Muslim Canadians by ensuring that authentic Zabeeha by hand halal products are conveniently and readily available at our local grocery stores nationally.”
With Ramadan only two weeks away from the Halal Food Fest, a well-known relief agency, the International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF) will also be hosting a Toonie for One Drop program during the festival.
The campaign will raise funds to build and provide access to safe water around the world.
The Greater Toronto Area has the largest concentration of Muslims in Canada.
The vibrant Muslim community in the area is the host to two other large annual gatherings of North American Muslims, the Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Convention in December and the summer festival, Muslim Fest that is set for August 1 – 2.
A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.
Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.
A report from the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said that Muslims are expected to make up 6.6% of Canada’s total population in 2030.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Briefing: Middle East: The halal food challenge in the Middle East

With 317 million Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa, demand for halal meat is ever increasing and the opportunity for importers is huge. However, the lack of a global standard means there is confusion surrounding what qualifies as halal. Supplying 'halal' meat to the region is therefore a far more complex task than one might imagine. Paul Cochrane explores.
The Middle Eastern halal meat market is anticipating significant growth in the next few years, driven by rising populations and rising consumer awareness about food content. However, the lack of a common global halal standard is hindering the market's potential, given the region is heavily dependent on imports from non-Muslim countries.
Until October, when the United Arab Emirates launched a ‘Halal National Mark’ to regulate and certify the halal industry, there was no halal standards body in the Middle East and north Africa.
"The concept in the MENA was 'kulu halal' (everything is halal in Arabic) but that is not the case any more in our globalised economy, and is limited to slaughtering controlled by government ministries. Sadly there is a lot of contamination (i.e. not halal) in food ingredients, especially in processed food," Asad Sajjad, CEO of the UAE-based Gulf Halal Center and Halal Development Council, says.
Halal, which is Arabic for permissible, requires adherence to Islamic law, or Sharia. Muslims are not allowed to consume pork or by-products, animals that were unhealthy or dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly or in the name of God, carnivorous animals or animals contaminated by blood or alcohol. Slaughter is by a sharp knife that cuts directly to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe, with the blood drained from the carcass. The rest of the butchering process can be mechanical.
Opinions differ as to whether stunning is halal or not. This is particularly relevant in the EU where it is mandatory to stun livestock, although countries such as the UK have rulings exempting religious slaughter. That said, 88% of animals slaughtered by halal methods in the UK were stunned beforehand, according to a 2012 report from the country's Food Standards Agency.
"Real halal is hand-slaughtered, non-stunned, but because of huge demand and fast production the compromise is that stunning is allowed for bigger animals. A problem with stunning, especially of poultry, is you don't know if the animal is dead or alive. With larger animals you are sure it is alive, although some countries will not accept it, like Iran, Pakistan and Egypt," Sajjad explains.
The lack of halal standards bodies was due to 85% of meat imported to the 56-member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) being from non-OIC countries, according to DinarStandard, a growth strategy research and advisory firm in New York.
As a result, standardisation bodies were established in major exporting countries. The top exporters of meat and live animals to the OIC in 2013, were Brazil with sales of US$4.7bn, India with exports worth $2.1bn, Australia at $1.6bn, the US at $1.15bn and France with shipments worth $804m, according to a ThomsonReuters-DinarStandard report 'State of the Global Islamic Economy 2014-2015'.
The top importing OIC countries of meat and live animals in 2013 were Saudi Arabia, which bought $2.7bn worth of shipments, the UAE with $1.5bn, Egypt with US$1.2bn, Malaysia with $897m and Iraq with $864m - followed by Jordan, Qatar, Indonesia, Kuwait and Libya with between $500-US$600m each respectively.
With the global halal food market estimated to be worth $1.09trn, according to DinarStandard, and forecast to grow to $1.6trn by 2018, driven by demand from 1.6bn Muslims, there is a growing need for halal certification standardisation.
"There are opportunistic, profit-driven initiatives involved in the halal market. That caused many problems in non-regulated countries, as anyone can set up a body to be halal, and off you go, with no good auditing or accreditation, which hurts the industry," says Rafi-uddin Shikoh, CEO and managing director of DinarStandard. At present, MENA countries send ministerial delegations to slaughterhouses abroad to check slaughtering is Sharia-compliant, working with local certification bodies. There are further inspections during importation. Some manufacturers carry out supervision themselves to ensure compliance.
"We do all the supervision, from A to Z. We have a supervisor at the slaughterhouse and our own slaughterer that has been properly trained, either from an Islamic country or a Brazilian Muslim," says Saleh Abdullah Lootah, managing director of UAE-based Al-Islami Foods, the region's largest halal food producer.
To improve standards worldwide, the OIC's standardisation body, the Standards and Metrology Institute for Islamic Countries (SMIIC) has launched an initiative to globalise the various standards that exist, providing a template for countries to adopt. Food companies would then get halal accreditation from the local body. This is what has occurred through the UAE's new standard, which awarded its first 'Halal Mark' to Global Food Industries (GFI), part of the Albatha Group, in February. The mark is expected to help position the UAE as a halal hub. "One of our targets is to help the UAE go from being a net importer to being a halal exporter," Sajjad says.
Malaysia is considered the global leader in halal certification, providing a benchmark for standardisation bodies to emulate. "The goal of SMICC is to address this standards gap, as we believe what will happen is that OIC governments are going to get stricter on what is halal, and not just be 'kulu halal'," Shikoh explains. "We expect each country will have their own standard but make sure it is inter-operable to facilitate trade across the board, to know how Malaysian standards are different from say the standards body in the UAE."
A challenge for the industry is to not make halal certification overly complicated. For instance, ensuring the whole logistics chain is halal – such as separate loading facilities and halal hubs at ports to ensure no contact with pork and non-halal products – can drive up costs.
"My belief is that halal should not be complicated or expensive," Lootah asserts. "A whole value chain for halal is a costly exercise, and many Muslim countries don't have high purchasing power. I don't see logistics as a big issue as long as there is sufficient segregation. "It is like the hotel industry with a one to five star rating. Halal has different criteria. Some want the highest standards and others are willing to compromise, but if they are given the same logo, that is not fair. It is about transparency. We are not there yet, but it is going that way."

Monday, March 30, 2015

Halal Research Council will provide services to promote Halal Industry in Nigeria

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between Halal Research Council (HRC) Pakistan & LCM Consulting Nigeria Limited

Muhammad Zubair Mughal, CEO Halal Research Council and Mohammad Lawal Shuaibu, MD LCM consulting Nigeria Signing MOU for the Development of Halal Industry in Nigeria

30th March, 2015
 (Lahore) Halal Research Council and LCM consulting Nigeria limited have signed an agreement in Lahore. The MOU was signed by Muhammad Zubair Mughal, Chief Executive Office Halal Research Council and Mohammad Lawal Shuaibu, Managing Director LCM consulting Nigeria limited. Both the organizations will work together for the promotion of Halal industry as Halal Research council will facilitate the LCM consulting Nigeria limited in different aspects of Halal industry like Capacity Building, Research & Development, Shariah Advisory etc. As per agreement, LCM will promote the distance learning program of Halal Research Council with different universities and institutes related to food technology in Nigeria.
Mr. Muhammad Zubair Mughal, CEO Halal Research Council, mentioned that being an important country in Africa, Nigeria has a population of almost 180 million almost half of which is Muslims,so Nigeria can be an important target market for the growing of Halal industry and it can serve 58 other countries of Africa as well. He said that the growing concept of Halal is not only limited to Muslim countries asit is getting popular with Muslim and even Non-Muslim communities in Africa and Europe.In Future, the Continent of Africa can play an important role for the development of Agro-economics Halal industry wherein Halal meat, Halal dairy, Halal tourism, Halal logistics etc will gain importance. He mentioned that Halal Research Council is not only interested for the development of Halal Industry in Nigeria but also focusing for development of Islamic Banking an Takaful Industry through their sister concern “ AlHuda Center of Islamic Banking and Economics”, who already have a handsome presence in African Countries.
Mohammad Lawal Shuaibu, Managing Director LCM consulting Nigeria limited, said, Pakistan has lately gained a good repute in International halal industry. According to the agreement, the best halal practices of Pakistan will be utilized for the development of Halal industry in Nigeria.
Halal Research council is an international institute, which is serving halal industry for over five years through education, capacity buildings, training's, research and other areas in collaboration with strategic partners like PIHH Malaysia, Instituto Spain, Halal Transactions of Omaha USA, GmbH Germany, UHB Uganda Halal Bureau, IIDZ Australia,TITICF Honk Kong and others in more than 19 countries around the globe#

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Declaration of 4th International Halal Conference & Exhibition Issued

Pakistan would be the Halal Hub of future: Zubair MughalMarch 18, 2015 - Lahore: The 4th International Halal Conference and Expo 2015 held at Lahore-Pakistan, jointly by Halal Research Council, Punjab Halal Development Agency (PHDA) and USAID-PEEP.
That the Representatives of Trade and Industry Organizations and Institutions from Switzerland ,Malaysia, Bahrain, UAE, Mauritius, USA and Pakistan shared their views and valuable research on the different aspects of halal trade and Industry and the measures to promote the trade of halal food and non-food products.
Mr. Zubair Mughal the Chief Executive Officer of Halal Research Council, while talking to media expressed his mission to promote Halal Industry in Pakistan. He further said that both the provincial and federal governments have to come up for the halal cause as there is a huge potential for this sector to export Medicines & supplements, Cosmetics and personal care products, dress/clothing items especially leather base items, financing for the halal industry and the Tourism. He said that Pakistan has every capability to become Halal Hub in comparison with any other country and the whole world is anticipating Pakistan as a Halal Hub which is becoming reality. He further added that a huge quantity of Halal Food, Halal Meat, Halal Cosmetics, Halal gelatin and Halal bones can be exported from Pakistan through which we can increase our exports hence can cover the trade deficit. In addition to this, he said that Halal Research Council will continue its journey in the field of Research, Development & Innovation and will arrange the international conferences in South Africa, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and UAE in the year 2015. Where as at national level, a road show from Khyber to Karachi would be arranged and 300 seminars on Halal awareness in 100 cities of Pakistan within one month would be conducted.
A declaration was also made by the stakeholders giving serious consideration to the challenges faced and emerging issues of halal trade and Industry and the measures needed to promote trade of halal food and non-food products. This declaration emphasized to strengthen the relationship among the stakeholders of halal trade and industry especially ASEAN and OIC member countries through harmonized legislation and standardization by creating awareness about Sharia principles on halal and to take measures ensuring strict compliance of the Ordains of ALLAH SWT and his Messenger, the Prophet of Islam, regarding compliance of halal and tayyab.
Justice (R) Khalil ur Rahman the Chairman Punjab Halal Development Agency (PHDA) appreciated the interest of stakeholders in this conference and shared the contents of declaration with all the participants.
The Conference ended with renewed mission by the stakeholders' manufactures, traders, technologists, scientists, Shariah Experts and consumers to join hands in one direction with a recommendation to introduce Halal Laws into the curriculum at all levels be initiated at University level.


Friday, March 6, 2015

Global mark of quality for halal food begins with Australia and New Zealand exports to UAE

Halal food products from Australia and New Zealand are the first imports to be subject to the UAE’s new standards, which aim to create a global mark of quality for the Islamic food industry.
The halal mark was unveiled by the Emirates Authority for Standardisation & Metrology (Esma) at Gulfood yesterday, following a three-year development process that is part of Dubai’s push to become the global capital of the Islamic economy.
The new halal certification covers the full process from farm to slaughter to additives and ingredients used, Esma said.
The standards are backed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the 57-country body that aims to preserve Islamic social and economic values.
Within two years all food imports will need the mark to pass through the country, Esma said.
About a fifth of the global food trade is halal, according to Datamonitor, and it is forecast to be worth US$10 trillion by 2030, a Global Futures and Foresights study says.
Halal food imports into the GCC will reach $53.1 billion by 2020, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“More than 85 per cent of the food we import comes from non-Muslim countries,” said Dr Rashid bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, who is also chairman of Esma.
“We need new standards of transparency and security for halal customers. There will be no disruption to the food chain, it will be an incremental change with Australia and New Zealand the first countries to fall under the new standards.”
Dubai was the fifth-largest market for lamb and sheep exports from Australia in the second quarter of last year, according to Meat and Livestock Australia. Saudi Arabia was the fourth-biggest during the period. Much of 2015 demand is expected to come from the Middle East.
“We are privileged to be the first international exporters, along with New Zealand, to carry the new halal mark,” said David Beatty, regional manager for Meat & Livestock Australia.
“I think the UAE sees that we have solid and strong certification in place and the integrity of our food chain is fundamental to that. We do not know what the new certification will entail, but we have most appropriate systems in place already so I do not foresee any problems. The present certification system is not homogenous, so the halal mark may well benefit exporters, importers and consumers.”
The new standards will also help UAE-based exporters compete in international markets, companies said.
“The accreditation means we will not need certificates from different regions with differing levels of compliance,” said Ishaque Noor, group managing director at Albatha Consumer Group.
“It will give customers and consumers total confidence that the food they are buying, and the supply chain, is Sharia-compliant.
“No longer will countries need to question the authenticity of a halal product. If it carries the halal mark it meets the strictest conditions of Islamic process.”
Albatha’s Global Food Industries, which manufactures frozen food in Sharjah, is the first company to get the mark on its products. Esma did not disclose which countries would next be subject to the new standards for halal food imports. But in October, Dubai said it was in talks with Malaysia’s government over a deal to agree mutually acceptable halal standards.
Yesterday, Brazil’s meat export body said the introduction of the mark would not cause any disruption to trade.
“We have three different certification bodies in Brazil,” said Ricardo Joao Santin, vice president of the poultry division at the Brazilian Association of Animal Protein. “We exported 230,000 tonnes of meat to the UAE last year with no problems. We have the utmost respect for religion and its requirements.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two UAE-based food firms receive Halal Certification

Dubai — Muslim consumers in the UAE can now start looking for the country’s official logo given to certified halal food products.
Two companies have been certified to use the National Halal Mark developed by the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (Esma) after the logo was officially released at the ongoing Gulfood Exhibition 2015.
Global Food Industries, which manufactures frozen food in Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi-based food and beverage firm Aghthia were the first companies to get the halal mark on their products.
“The official release of the mark and awarding it to two companies means it is now in the market. People can look for it,” said Farah Ali Al Zarooni, the director of standards department at Esma.
She was speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the Halal Investment Conference held as part of the Gulfood Conferences on Tuesday.
“We are importing more than 85 per cent of products from other countries, which are mainly non-Muslim countries,” she said. “Our scheme will make sure raw materials and sources are 100 per cent halal and it will assure quality and safety of products for human consumption, controlling all phases of the supply chain from farm to fork,” said Al Zarooni.
The requirement for the halal mark on imported halal meat products to the UAE will start with products from Australia and New Zealand, officials said.
Valued over $52.5 billion, the UAE’s meat and live animal imports stood second among the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation (OIC) countries in 2013. In two years, all halal food products imported to the UAE will have to carry the halal mark of quality that is recognised by the OIC.
The inaugural Halal Investment Conference under the theme ‘Standardising the Global Halal Industry’, put the spotlight on the UAE’s role in global halal standardisation and product certification.
A senior official said the UAE’s halal standards and mark are likely to be adopted at a GCC level.
“When any member of the GCC comes up with good standards, we will take it as a model for GCC level… There will not be any conflict of interest,” Nabil Molla, secretary general of GCC Standardisation Organisation (GSO), told this paper.
Appreciating the halal standards and mark developed by the UAE, he said, the GSO will also discuss the option of adopting the same mark at the GCC level. “By the end of the year, all these details will be clear,” he said.
“The GSO’s vision is to become the pioneers of standardisation and excellence, both regionally and internationally. Through the facilitation of trade, we strive to eliminate barriers, all the while protecting our consumers, their health and our environment,” he said.
However, an industry expert said there was a need for the authorities to consider the practical difficulties faced by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in implementing the strict halal standards.
Hassan Bayrakdar, founder and managing director of Raqam Consultancy, said it would be difficult for many SMEs to apply certain halal standards especially in some areas such as transporting and storage of food products.
“The cost involved in obtaining halal certificate and other related certificates may give a competitive advantage to bigger companies,” he said, calling for authorities’ attention into such issues.
Noaf Al Naqbi, head of the certification body accreditation section at the Dubai Accreditation Centre under the Dubai Municipality, said the centre will organise training on halal requirements for certification bodies and awareness sessions for slaughterhouses and food manufacturers.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Perception Problem of Halal Food Industry

Can an agenda driven small vocal minority with social media savvy derail a trillion dollar industry? 

If you do not address a provocative rumour, does it become a reality?
Can an agenda driven small vocal minority with social media savvy derail a trillion dollar industry?
The agenda is the halal food industry for the nearly two billion Muslims and non-Muslims with aligned values.

The vocal minority is the ‘halal-hysteria’ movement, like Boycott Halal in Australia via Facebook, and its viral impact has reached beyond the country’s shores.
What is the ‘measured and proportional’ response from the halal industry as its impacting local SMEs (with halal products) and Australia’s reputation in its export markets like the Gulf countries?
Two points to discuss:
What is the manner of the ‘halal’ slaughter?
What are the cross section of comments by the ‘halal-hysteria’ movement?

The word ‘slaughter’ may no longer be politically correct to use when describing the event. The event is actually a sacrifice to the Creator for the bounty bestowed upon us (mankind, not just Muslims) so that we part-take of the good and healthy blessings.
“Dhabiah is the prescribed method of slaughter for all meat sources, excluding fish and other sea-life, per Islamic law. This method of slaughtering animals consists of using a well-sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, windpipe, and jugular veins. The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the qiblah. In addition to the direction, permitted animals should be slaughtered upon utterance of the Islamic prayer “in the name of God.”
The halal (permissible) is a process and procedure, and it starts not at the sacrifice at the abattoir, but at the birth of the animal! Where was the animal was born (cage)? What was it fed (grind up pieces of other animals and antibiotics)? How was it raised (same cage)? How was it transported to the abattoir (smaller cage)? Did the animal view other animals sacrificed?
The focus has to be the life-cycle of the animal and not just the last six seconds of their life. Thus, more light has to be shown on factory farming so that all consumers can make an informed decision.
The comments
The comments, from informative to provocative, after an article usually convey a pulse of the sentiment, right or wrong, for those interested in the topic. The sentiments based on evidence change opinions versus sentiments that are meant to inflame.
Here are two comments from a recent article January 22, ‘Some people really don’t understand what halal means.’
“The halal rort is growing fast and is now a multi-trillion dollar industry world-wide. Halal certified food involves a fee paid to an Islamic certifying body and this means any halal certified food we buy incurs an Islamic tax under Shariah law. Part of this then apparently funnelled through to the Islamic Brotherhood and others. The little halal symbols are on a huge variety of everyday food and are becoming an increasing part of our Western diet. We are not just talking about meat here. It has been described as ‘Stealth Jihad in the West’. Even Cadbury’s chocolate is catering to them including promoting shariah-compliant, halal-certified chocolate bunnies and eggs for Easter! So Muslims celebrate Easter now?”
Few points here:
— There is a Muslim/Shariah tax for non-Muslims who purchase halal? Why is the writer not raising the issue for organic and Kosher, also available in their countries? Furthermore, such people have the freedom not to purchase. One can vote by their ‘dollars.’
— Part of the halal certification fees is sent to fund ‘Islamic Brotherhood.’ Where is the evidence, as forensic accounting of books and wire transfer closely monitor the situation? The said organisation is banned in the Muslim countries.
— The halal food becoming part of the western diet. Why is that bad? If this person ate a halal sacrificed meat versus non-halal, would he/she be able to tell the difference? The halal industry needs to present hard scientific evidence of the benefits of complete draining of the blood, which may be produced by non-stun slaughter.
If Nestle, with 500 halal products in Malaysia, and Cadbury are offering halal products, it’s because there is a consumer demand and not because they want to back-door a religion. The money Nestle and Cadbury receives from selling their products eventually goes to paying their employees, their shareholders and support stock prices.
If Muslims want to have purchase halal chocolates during Easter or halal turkey during Thanksgiving, isn’t it about tolerance, understanding and respecting other’s faiths?
The writer below is probably the sampling, and industry needs to answer his questions.
‘Let’s not overreact. It has nothing to do with “financing Islam” or “supporting” or “not supporting” Muslims. As long as no one is misbehaving, forcing others to do something or threatening my way of life, I don’t care what religion they are, as long as they are peaceful — but truly peaceful, not in the MSM kind of way. Halal hysteria is a bit over the top, in my opinion. Yes, the animals are suffering (I think) and it looks cruel — so that alone may push people to avoid halal meat (if they can avoid it, someone rightly pointed that most meat in NZ is halal certified anyway — but I think it is done in a slightly more caring way using stun gun first). But a lot of other animals are killed cruelly, like ducks to get the foie gras, which I adore. So, what do we do there?’
What is the halal industry campaign to educate?


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

US firm extends invite to Islamic scholars in fake Gulf Halal Food case

A US-based food company accused of supplying beef to several Gulf countries that it falsely claimed was halal has extended an open invitation to Islamic scholars and official auditors in the Middle East to inspect its food process for Halal compliance.
Last month, it was reported that Midamar Corporation, based in Iowa, in Midwestern US, had been accused of supplying nearly $5 million worth of beef to Muslim customers in Malaysia, Kuwait and the UAE.
Directors of the company, named as brothers Jalel and Yahya 'Bill' Aossey, have been charged by US federal prosecutors with nearly 100 counts of conspiring to make and use false statements and documents, sell misbranded meat and commit mail and wire fraud.
The company issued a strong denial of the allegations on its website in December and has now issued the invitation in a bid to clear its name.
It said in a statement: "Recent news reports falsely claim that the company sold millions of dollars in meat to the GCC countries, which allegedly did not follow Halal practices.
"Company directors do not accept these allegations that have been made without fully considering the context and diversity of Halal market."
It added: It would be irrational, immoral, and counterproductive for a company like Midamar, which only produces Halal food for sale in the US and for export, to decide to produce and sell non Halal food to Halal consumers.
"This is an industry where companies must guard the Halal integrity of their brand, thereby earning the trust and confidence of Halal consumers. Midamar has been aware of this fact and has acted accordingly for 40 years."
Midamar said it has extended an open invitation to Islamic scholars and designated community leaders in the US, Asia, Middle East, and GCC countries.
Official auditors and community leaders are invited to visit Halal facilities in the USA and witness Midamar processes for themselves. Midamar said it will "engage in discussion on the true nature of the US Halal industry, its practices, challenges and opportunities".
Prosecutors claimed the beef came from a supplier that used bolt stunning to kill cattle and the labels were removed by employees to cover up the real source of the meat.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Singaporean firm launches mobile app for Halal shops

While the halal food and beverage market is estimated to reach $1.6 trillion by 2018, a mobile application that enables Muslim foodies and travelers to share halal restaurant discoveries around the world has been launched

A Singapore-based company yesterday launched a mobile application that enables Muslim foodies and travelers to share halal restaurant discoveries around the world. The free "HalalTrip" app, available for Apple iOS and Android devices, enables users to take and upload photos of halal dishes, write comments and share them through social media. Clicking on a photo gives details about the dish as well as the location of the restaurant. The app, which has English and Arabic interfaces, also uses a traveler's location to display photos of halal dishes served in nearby restaurants. The term halal is used for food, products and services that comply with Islamic requirements. "Halal food is one of the biggest drivers of tourism for the Muslim market," said Fazal Bahardeen, chief executive of HalalTrip, part of a Muslim-oriented business group called CrescentRating. "When travelling, one of the main concerns of Muslims is halal food. What we did is to bring in a social media element into discovering halal food and making it more fun and more intuitive," he told AFP. Bahardeen predicted the Muslim travel market would be worth $192 billion a year globally by 2020, up from $140 billion in 2013.
In Turkey there are an estimated 5,000 firms with a halal certificate. Turkey is one of the world's most important markets for halal food. Although the majority of the population is Muslim, Turkey is lagging behind compared to other countries with regard to halal certification. The consequence is that Turkish companies are only minor players in the global halal market. For example, Brazil exports $6.5 billion worth of halal meat to countries with Muslim populations. With their current production conditions, food companies in Turkey are well positioned to take a sizeable bite out of this market once the halal certification issue has been addressed. In Turkey, there are two institutions that have authority to give halal certification: the Association for the Inspection and Certification of Food and Supplies (GIMDES) and the Turkish Standards Institute (TSE). GIMDES is a nongovernmental organization founded in 2005, and in 2008, it became a member of the World Halal Council, which brings halal certification institutions to 58 countries. The institutions that accredit GIMDES are the Indonesia MUI, the Malaysia-JAKIM, the Sıngapore-MUIS and the World Halal Council. 
The halal food and beverage market grew to a $1.1 trillion industry in 2013, according to the latest research note by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which is based on a recent study by Thomson Reuters in collaboration with Dinar Standard. 
Globally, the halal food industry is growing in a number of markets - mainly in countries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region and South and South East Asia. Indonesia is the biggest halal food market with a market value of $197 billion in 2012, according to the report. Turkey, with $100 billion, is the second largest market.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Regulating the sacred: why the US Halal Food Industry needs better oversight

For many Muslims, adherence to Islamic dietary laws, known as halal, is an intrinsic part of their everyday lives. Even those who are relatively lax with other rituals of the faith tend to adhere to halal. But a spate of scandals involving halal meat – first in Europe and now in the US – threatens the reliability of the industry and highlights the need for improved oversight.
There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world who collectively support a market for halal foods that is currently valued at more than US$1 trillion. The demand for halal products from countries like the US is certain to grow because a large number of Muslim-majority countries do not have enough agriculture and livestock resources to feed their booming populations. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, for example, are expected to import US$53 billion of halal food by 2020.
The superior quality of its products has made the US a leader in the global market for food prepared by Islamic standards. But increasingly it is facing stiff competition from both established and emerging players like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Brazil and Uruguay. In order to maintain its competitive edge, the US needs to bolster its halal-assurance mechanisms. This is necessary not only for the export market but also to instill confidence among the millions of domestic halal consumers in America.

The Midamar controversy

Last month, Bill Aossey Jr, founder of Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based Midamar Corp, was indicted on 19 felony counts for allegedly shipping mis-branded meat to Indonesia and Malaysia from 2007 to 2010. He is accused of making false statements on export certificates and committing wire and money fraud. Indonesia and Malaysia have strict halal import regulations that require that the meat be processed only at their approved slaughterhouses. Aossey Jr has been accused of shipping beef from a Minnesota plant that had no such approval from the two importing countries.
Midamar insists that it was a minor labeling issue and that the meat it shipped was halal. Its lawyer criticized the government for initially accusing the company of not being compliant with halal rules but later retracting that allegation. He also accused the government of ‘improperly trying to define halal standards’. Defining what is halal or not should be left to the Muslim faithful without governmental interference, he appears to be saying.
The controversy surrounding Midamar is emblematic of the issues plaguing the industry. Unlike the Kosher food sector, there is no widely accepted golden halal standard in the US or even internationally. Despite some initiatives taken by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a universal standard has yet to emerge. While all Muslims agree on the fundamentals of Islamic dietary laws, as mentioned in the Quran, there are significant disagreements when it comes to the details.
Unlike kosher, there is no universally recognized standard for proper halal food preparation. But there are a few minimal consumer expectations. Reuters
Click to enlarge

Mechanical versus manual slaughter

Some of the contentious issues include: the permissibility of stunning an animal, mechanical versus manual slaughter, vertical versus horizontal cut, permissibility of minute quantities of alcohol as processing agents, and the list goes on. Adding a further dimension of complexity is the growing awareness among Muslims that the food they consume should not only be halal but also ethical. Proponents of this movement highlight issues such as the humane treatment of animals and the use of genetically modified organisms.
As a result of this lack of consensus, the definition of halal can be as expansive or as restrictive as one wants it to be. This obviously poses a problem for food manufacturers frustrated by the diversity of opinion and unable to adhere to a set standard. But despite the disagreements, the average Muslim consumer has come to expect some basic standards. At a minimum, halal signifies that the permissible animal or bird has been slaughtered by a Muslim; that it is alive at the time of the slaughter; that a ritual blessing is invoked; and that the blood is completely drained out.
But this diversity of definitions creates a large loophole for fraud. Businesses and individuals have charged premium fees for generic meats they incorrectly labeled halal. Several private halal certifiers do provide some oversight of the industry but that has proven to be inadequate. The fact that there are no regulations governing the certifiers means that anyone can claim to be one. This has led to the mushrooming of scores of “certifiers” with little or no religious or technical expertise. A related problem is that of self-certification by the companies. This essentially makes the whole exercise redundant as then there is no third-party oversight.

Fragmented and haphazard

The US government’s regulation of what constitutes halal works in a fragmented and haphazard manner. The Department of Agriculture oversees federally regulated plants and also inspects exporters to ensure that they meet the importing country requirements. Since 2000, eight states have also enacted their own halal consumer protection legislation similar to the ones that were designed for kosher consumers. But the scope of these laws is often vague and poorly implemented. Cutbacks in the public sector has led to an acute shortage of inspectors, making them effectively toothless. But there have been rare cases when the authorities did crack down on those indulging in fraud. The Orange County District Attorney, for instance, obtained a US$527,000 settlement in 2011 from a business which was fraudulently selling selling generic meat as halal.
In order to protect both the consumers and the reputation of the industry, it is vital that a holistic approach be adopted involving all stakeholders. There are obvious limitations to governmental involvement due to the separation of church and state principle. But it can certainly improve transparency and consumer information by mandating that anyone selling a product as halal should back up that claim. The disclosure requirements of New York’s Halal Food Act of 2005  if strictly implemented, which they are currently not, could serve as a good model. The government can also regulate the certifiers by imposing a minimum set of standards including qualifications and avoidance of conflict of interest.
Bureaucratization and professionalization of the halal certifiers at a minimum will greatly improve reliability – as it has in the kosher industry – if not completely eliminate fraud. A transparent and reliable American halal industry is good not only for consumers but also for businesses.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shariah Food demand shows Halal stock promise

Eight years ago, Taleb Mohamad Almahmoud started importing a non-alcoholic beer popular in the Middle East to Malaysia. Now he's bringing more than 300,000 bottles of Dubai-brewed Barbican into the country a month.
"There are many Arabs here and they like the drink because there's no alcohol," the Syrian-born Almahmoud said in an interview near his shop in downtown Kuala Lumpur that also stocks spices, couscous, pickled olives and Turkish coffee. "Malaysians like it too."
The popularity of halal products such as Barbican that comply with the Koran's tenets helped drive a 4.6 per cent gain in the SAMI Halal Food Index of shares this year, beating the 0.2 per cent rise in the Bloomberg World Food Index by miles.
The industry's expansion is also flowing through to debt markets, with the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Centre estimating companies involved in Shariah-compliant food, textiles, tourism and healthcare have sold $US5 billion of sukuk - the Islamic equivalent of bonds - to date.

The outlook for the $US2 trillion ($2.3 trillion) global halal industry that also includes fashion and entertainment is underpinned by a worldwide Muslim population that the Pew Research Center sees growing at twice the rate of non-believers through 2030.
Demographics like that have lured the world's biggest food company Nestle, which markets Shariah-compliant noodles and breakfast cereals.
'Obvious conduit'
"Halal is a huge industry and the growth rate is massive," said Baiza Bain, a director at Islamic finance consultancy Amanie Advisors in Melbourne. "Companies are making sure that they adopt the inclusiveness policy that will broaden their market."
Spending by Muslim consumers on halal products and services worldwide is forecast to increase by more than half to $US2.47 trillion by 2018 from 2012, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based MIFC.
Nestle (Malaysia) ships its products to more than 50 countries and may soon start exporting to Europe and South America, said Zainun Abdul Rauf, executive director for corporate affairs.
Sukuk sales
The share price of the company, which set up a 700 million ringgit ($242 million) sukuk program in 2003, has risen 0.9 per cent this year, faring better than Malaysia's benchmark stock index with its 2.3 per cent drop.
Worldwide sales of bonds that comply with Islam's ban on interest have increased tenfold in the last decade. Issuance has reached $US39.9 billion so far this year, 13 per cent more than at the same point in 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Ajinomoto, Japan's third-largest food company, sells Shariah-compliant food seasonings and drink sweeteners. The Asian nation and Spain have held halal summits this year to explore ways to develop the industry, while the UK plans to set up a business park to produce Shariah-compliant meat, according the MIFC report.
As well as prohibiting products that include alcohol and pork and banning gambling, Islamic tenets require that animals be slaughtered in a particular way accompanied by the recitation of a prayer.
Huge demand
Halal Industry Development Corp., a Malaysian government agency, estimates the global industry excluding financial services exceeds $US2 trillion and will grow 4 per cent to 5 per cent annually. Demand for Shariah-compliant products will come from established centres such as the Middle East as well as emerging markets including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, said its chief executive, Jamil Bidin.
"The global demand is huge," he said. "Many non-Muslim countries are participating in this because they see that halal is big business."

Monday, November 17, 2014

Distance Learning Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry

Halal Research Council is pleased to offer “Post Graduate Diploma in Halal Industry”. This program is highly structured, interactive and innovatively designed distance learning program with an interactive methodology taught under the supervision of Halal industrial experts, Shariah scholars and technical professionals of various national and international universities, research and technical Institutes and Government agencies.
After the completion of courses, the students will have a comprehensive understanding about the concepts of Halal mechanism and certification of Halal and the prospects of Halal knowledge.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Global Halal Food Standards must be Consistent

Ongoing developments include certification, accreditation and standard setting

Halal food sector across the globe will need to be integrated through uniform standards. This was endorsed by food experts at the 9th Dubai International Food safety conference on Tuesday.
“The halal food sector is poised for significant growth over the next five years. Current estimates suggest that the global halal food segment is worth around $667 billion and accounts for around 20 per cent of the global food trade,” said Khalid Sheriff, director food control department at Dubai Municipality. “Such huge amounts of foods require applying uniform and harmonised standards and regulations.”
Khalid was speaking at the second Halal Food Symposium. He stressed on how the Halal food industry will soon be the turning point in Dubai’s economic development.
“As Dubai aims to be the ‘capital of the Islamic economy’ in two years, many initiatives are being prepared at the federal and local levels to cater for the need to establish laws and regulations related to halal foods.”
The initiatives range from updating existing standards to drafting new ones to fill any legislative gap, and to harmonise regulations globally.
The ongoing developments in the halal food business include certification, accreditation and standard setting.
Representatives of various regulatory and statutory bodies from all around the world, especially Islamic countries and the countries that export foods to Islamic countries were among the participants, in addition to international organizations and private institutions.
Amir Sakic, Halal food expert, Agency for Halal Quality Certification, Islamic Community – Bosnia and Herzegovina, spoke about how to tackle the issues in halal food business, trends and experiences, while Dr Abdallah Belal Adam, Leader of Halal Meat Research Group, University of HAIL- Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia, shed light on the halal meat authenticity, new analytic methods in differentiation between halal and non-halal meat.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Halal food Production Launched in Balkans

In a bid to fight against economic crisis, producers in the Balkans turned towards halal food targeting both Western and Muslim countries markets, as demand for such products is constantly growing.
“Halal market represents more than one billion people across the globe. It is a young market with an important purchasing power and whose demand grows between 10 and 20 percent yearly,” said Amel Kovacevic, one of the organisers of a halal food fair in Sarajevo.
The three-day fair, that opened on Wednesday, is the first of its kind in the Balkans and it hosted some 30 producers from the region.
They came with their meat products, cheese, sweets, pastry, oils and halal cosmetics.
The Balkans region is well located in the Mediterranean basin which enables it to target both Western and Muslim countries market, Kovacevic said.
“In this economic and financial crisis that puts into question the existence of many companies one has to profit from the fact that we are in the very middle, between the East and the West.
“We have clean land and air and unexpensive labour force. It is a chance for economic development of this region,” he concluded.
In 2009 global halal food market was estimated at some $635 billion (490 billion euros) according to the “World Halal Forum.”
“Halal should not been seen as something that will immediately accelerate production and make profit grow in a day,” Asim Bajraktarevic, in charge of production in a processed meats factory, told AFP.
“It is the way to improve the quality of products and create conditions for growth once we enter foreign markets,” the young man added.
The Brajlovic factory, near Sarajevo, with a capacity of some 15 tons of products daily, obtained its halal certification three months ago. It is among some 150 food producers in the Balkans region that decided to respect same production norms for more than 2,000 products.
The number of both companies that obtain halal certifications in the Balkans and their products grow between 30 and 40 percent yearly while their turnover is currently estimated at some 550 million euros ($708 million), Amir Sakic, head of an agency for halal certification in Sarajevo, said.
Halal, an Arab word meaning “lawful,” refers to all things and actions permitted by Koran to practising Muslims, notably to a ritual to slaughter an animal, only a herbivore, that has to be conscious when slaughtered and its body should by drained of blood.
Also at the time of slaughter the phrase “bismallah” or in the “name of God (Allah)” should be pronounced by a practising Muslim, Sakic explained.
“For me it is very important to have a possibility to buy products with halal certifications since I respect recommendations of the Prophet Mohammed that ban pork and its by-products,” assured Mirza Suvalija, a pensioner wearing the Islamic veil, who visited the fair.
Sakic’s agency, that is referential in the region, was founded in 2006 with help of local Islamic community in the country where Muslims are majority while the others are Orthodox and Catholic Christians.
Muslims make up some 40 percent of Bosnia’s population of some 3.8 million, but most of them are not looking for halal-labelled products. Also, purchasing power is rather low and regional producers focus their hopes elsewhere.
A large number of companies that demanded to be given halal certifications are from Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, neighbouring countries where Catholic and Orthodox Christians are majority.
“We export our products to some twenty countries. This year we obtained halal certification and it helped us a lot to increase our sales, notably in Scandinavian countries,” said Kalin Babusku, an official of the Macedonian factory “Mama’s.”
The factory produces jams and “ajvar,” a kind of seasoning based on pepper, egg-plant and garlic, a product very popular throughout the Balkans.
“Before obtaining the certification we were exporting to Sweden a truck of products every three months. Now we export a truck monthly,” said Babusku who was presenting “Mama’s” products at the Sarajevo fair.