Monday, June 12, 2006

Muslims close to agreeing on halaal food

Staff Writer
June 06 2006 at 08:59AM

South Africa's first national agreement on standardising procedures in certifying food as halaal is expected to be completed in June.This follows a meeting in Cape Town late last month of representatives of each of the organisations in the National Halaal Forum (NHF), a self-regulatory body whose meetings are facilitated by the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.According to the NHF, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), Islamic Council of South Africa and the National Independent Halaal Trust have agreed on a number of important halaal standards, such as for the slaughtering of animals at abattoirs and certification of non-meat foods.The NHF is to produce a set of interim standards that is to be referred back to the members' sharia experts for technical certification details.

"The initiative among the members of the NHF is unique (in) the national halaal industry, which is being normalised for the first time," an NHF statement read."With more than two thirds of the key issues having been agreed upon, the parties are confident that a final agreement on uniform halaal standards will be in place before August."Zahir Williams, special adviser to the MJC, has said that agreement on standards would provide opportunities for certification services to work with food producers on products for export to Muslim countries in the Gulf and in Africa.Muslims are not permitted to consume products containing alcohol, pork or a pork by-product. All animals eaten must be slaughtered in the presence of a Muslim.It is estimated that Muslims account for four percent of South Africa's population, with more than 60 percent of them living in the Western Cape.

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