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People from other religions too opting for halaal foods

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:07:25 AM, Agencies

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Cape Town: Health concerns see members of other religious groups seeking advice on suitable foods. Non-Muslims are becoming part of the estimated 635-billion worldwide halaal (permissible) market, South African National Halaal Authority (Sanha) revealed last week.


 “More people are going for halaal foods. From the e-mails we receive, even non-Muslims are focusing on halaal foods because of health safety aspects,” said Ebi Lockhat, spokesman for the South African National Halaal Authority (Sanha).


“We have letters from people of the Hindu faith enquiring about animal gelatine in yoghurts. They have sufficient trust in us to enquire if a certain product contains animal extract. We tell them if it is halaal and whether it contains animal extract or not”, he said.


He said some people may wonder why there is such a strong emphasis on halaal foods when the Muslim community forms only a small percentage of the population. “The Muslim law is such that what you can’t consume, you can’t sell.”

He said halaal was not confined to food, but extended also to pharmaceuticals. “There is a big drive into pharmaceuticals, with people questioning if certain things like vitamins contain animal placenta.”


Abdul Wahab Wookay, CEO of the National Independent Halaal Trust, agreed that there was a growing interest among non-Muslims, including Hindus, in halaal food.


“The demand globally is growing tremendously,” said Wookay.

Hindus are turning to halaal authorities to determine whether certain foods are suitable for their consumption. Hindus, according to religious requirements, are prohibited from eating food products that contain animal extracts, including beef.


This is despite the fact the South African Hindu Maha Sabha the governing body of Hindus has the Shuddah symbol, which endorses certain foods acceptable for Hindu consumption.


Divesh Maharaj, a spokesman for the Vaishnava Research Forum, which has been investigating the presence of animal extracts in certain foods, said there was a need for more Hindu organisations to be proactive in the listing of products suitable for Hindu consumption.


“At the moment, it is very limited. Our organisation has been looking at this on an ongoing basis. We have been providing the community with information and educational programmes. We constantly contact manufacturers to update our listings,” said Maharaj.


But Rugbeer Kallideen of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha said the halaal market did not cater for Hindus.


“There is a big difference between us (Hindus) and the halaal market. The Muslim community eats meat. It’s the slaughtering process which makes it halaal-compliant. According to the Hindu scriptures, meat is forbidden. We promote vegetarianism,” he said.


Meanwhile International delegates will gather at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg, for the 4th International Halaal Conference coming Sunday. The conference will look at the importance of halaal in the food and beverage industry.




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