Many American meat exporters obtain halal certificate fraudulently
Dubai: Ninety-five per cent of American food items found in supermarket shelves in the UAE and some other Gulf countries are not halal even though they may be certified as such, an industry specialist said at the Halal World Expo in Abu Dhabi.
Jalel Aossey, director of Midamar, a US-based international supplier of halal food and foodservice equipment, said that there is a significant flow of non-halal food items in the region from meat-supplying countries, and the Gulf countries need tougher regulations to stop that flow.
"On one side you have producers who genuinely don't know what they have to comply with because of a lack of education from the industry. But you also have companies and exporters that are deliberately defrauding governments and consumers by not complying with regulations because they don't want to pay the fees and the transition costs to make halal products," Aossey said.
Nearly 1.8 billion Muslims around the world as well as some non-Muslims are fuelling the halal food industry, generating sales of $2.1 trillion annually, according to recent reports. The attractive halal food industry is drawing many dubious players.
"Corrupt certifiers get a taste for the money generated producing "paper halal certificates" for companies without actually performing any work," Aossey said.
On regulatory measures, Aossey said, "People have to realise that it is not impossible, and that it's not too costly to put the correct halal standards in place here. There's a big misconception about how difficult this process is."
Noor Al Deen Abdullah, executive director of Kasehdia, a communications and consultancy company in Malaysia, and publishers of The Halal Food Journal earlier told Gulf News, "The global halal industry is still in its infancy because huge awareness is required, especially in the Middle East."
The major producing nations are Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and Canada, Abdullah said, from where halal and non-halal meat is supplied.
Aossey said that inspection teams can be sent to the various countries where food is being produced to allow it to be inspected, at that country's cost. "This is nothing when you consider the huge dollar volume of food products exported to the UAE and other Gulf countries."
In the UAE, 80 per cent of imported food is said to be halal, coming from countries such as Brazil and Australia.
What is halal meat?
Halal (or permissible) in Islam is the meat of animals that have been slaughtered reciting the name of Allah on them and all the blood has been drained from the carcass.
Additional criterion that make meat halal are that the animal should not be dead prior to slaughter, since carrion is forbidden and that the animal is from those that are allowed according to Islamic teachings.