THE ISLAMIC COUNCIL OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA (ICWA)
ICWA – HALAL GUIDELINES
Islam is not a mere religion. It is a way of life with rules and manners governing every facet of life. Since food is an important part of daily life, food laws carry a special significance. Muslims are expected to eat for survival, to maintain good health and not to live for eating. In Islam, eating is considered to be a matter of worship of God like prayer, fasting, alms-giving and other religious activities. A Muslim eats to maintain a strong and healthy physique in order to be able to contribute his knowledge and effort for the welfare of the society. Muslims are supposed to make an effort to obtain the best quality nutritionally. It is mentioned in a Hadith that the prayer of a person is rejected by Allah if his food is haram. Another Hadith states that hell-fire is more deserving of the flesh which has been nourished with haram.
Australia is a multicultural and multi-religious country. The problem of Halal-Haram with respect to food thus becomes an issue because some non Muslims may not understand the problems and sensitivities of the Muslims. This is compounded by the fact that Australian manufacturers are either unaware of Muslims requirements or choose to ignore them as insignificant.
It is therefore in this situation that like the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, its mother body, the Islamic Council of W.A. is endeavouring to establish the highest standards in the sanctioning of foods as Halal.
In general every food is considered lawful in Islam unless it is specially prohibited by the Qu’ran or the Hadith. By official definition, Halal foods are those that are:
- Free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law.
- Processed, made, produced, manufactured and/or stored using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that has been cleansed according to Islamic law.
- Free from contamination while prepared or processed with anything considered Najis (filthy).
- According to the current Islamic thinking, the following are considered Najis and therefore Haram (unlawful, prohibited):
- Swine including all by-products.
- Insects considered ugly or filthy such as worms, lice, flies, etc.
- Animals with fangs such as tigers, lions, cats etc,
- Birds that have talons with which they catch their prey such as owls, eagles, etc.
- Animals which Islam encourages to kill such as scorpions, centipedes, rats etc,
- Animals which Islam forbids to kill such as bees etc.
- Animals which have toxins, poisons or produce ill effects when eaten such as some fish etc.
- Amphibian animals such as crocodiles, turtles, frogs etc.
- Meat (limbs, tails etc.) which have been cut from a live animal.
- Lawful animals not slaughtered according to Islamic rites. (Fish is exempt from slaughtering).
- Carrion or dead animals.
- Plant and their products.
- Poisonous Plant.
- Intoxicating Plant
- Liquids and their products
- Poisonous drinks
- Intoxicating drinks
- Other matters and their products
- Faeces and urine
- Placental tissue
- Halal Sources
Products made from the following substances are Halal unless containing or come into contact with a Haram substance
- All plant and their products
- Certified Halal meat, poultry, game birds and animals.
- All water creatures, fish, crustaceans and molluscs.
- Egg from acceptable birds only.
- Rennet from certified Halal slaughtered calves
- Non animal rennet (NAR, culture)
- Gelatine produced from certified Halal beef skins and/or bones,
- Animal ingredients certified Halal
- Halal Slaughter
The conditions required for Halal slaughter of animals and birds are:
- The abattoirs or factory must be under the close and constant supervision of a religious organisation, namely ICWA.
- The premises, machinery and equipment must be classed according to Islamic Shariah (law) before any production takes place.
- The slaughterman must be a mature, pious Muslim of sound mind who understands fully the fundamentals and conditions relating to Halal slaughter and be approved by the religious authorities.
- Only acceptable live animals and birds can be slaughtered.
- The slaughter must be done manually using a steel knife.
- Facilities must be available for rinsing the knife after each kill.
- The slaughterman must sever the respiratory tract, oesophagus and the jugular vein.
- The animal must be completely dead before skinning can take place.
Within the Islamic religion, a strong emphasis is placed on cleanliness – both spiritually and in the context of food and drink. For a food or drink product to be approved for consumption it must conform to the Islamic dietary laws as specified in the Qur’an, the Hadith (sayings) of the Prophet Muhammad, his Sunnah (tradition) and in the Fiqh (understanding) of the Islamic Jurists: Hanafi, Shafi’, Maliki and Hambali. The Qur’an has numerous injunctions instructing Muslims to choose and consume good and wholesome foodstuffs.
In the selection of food and drink, Islam has laid down three very important guidelines, namely;
- Whether the consumption of the foodstuff is prohibited by Allah,
- Whether the foodstuff is obtained through Halal or Haram means, and
- Whether or not the material is harmful to health.
There are several factors that determine the Halal/Haram status of a particular foodstuff. Amongst others, it is dependent on its nature, how it was processed and where it originated from. As an example, any pig product is considered Haram because the material itself is Haram. Whereas beef from an animal that has not been slaughtered according to Islamic rites would still be considered Haram. Also Haram is food that has been stolen or acquired through unethical means. Islam also prohibits the usage of any materials that are detrimental to the spiritual or mental well-being of a person, such as alcoholic drinks and drugs.
The concept of Halal in Islam has very specific motives;
- To preserve the purity of religion
- To safeguard the Islamic mentality
- To preserve life
- To safeguard property
- To safeguard future generations
- To maintain self-respect and integrity.
Islam encourages its followers to choose Halal foods. This awareness is always propagated in Muslim societies and is strengthened by the widespread knowledge extolling the virtues of consuming clean and Halal foods. Due to advancements in food technology and distribution, Muslims are more exposed to various ingredients and manufactured foods imported into Muslim countries. The most common of these are food additives, gelatine, emulsifiers and rennet in cheese manufacture. The Muslim community would like to know whether or not the addition, the ingredients or the finished foods contain any Haram substance. These products can become Halal if the raw materials are Halal and the process is compatible with the Islamic way.
To determine the Halal-Haram status of foodstuffs and other material, Islam has laid general guidelines on this matter, namely:
- All raw materials and ingredients used must be Halal.
- Naturally Halal animals such as cattle, goats etc., must be slaughtered according to Islamic rites, the rituals specify that the act must be performed by a mentally sound Muslim, to sever the blood and respiratory channels of the animal, using a sharp cutting tool such as knife.
- The Halal ingredients must not be mixed, or come into contact with haram materials such as products from pig or dog during storage, transport, cooking, serving etc.
It must be understood that the production of Halal food is not only beneficial to Muslims, but also to food producers, by means of increased market acceptance of their products. Manufacturers and exporters of Halal products can receive Halal certification for their products from ICWA.
In the modern processing of food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products we cannot escape from the issue of food ingredients which originates from animals, especially additives and many of these are imported. The ingredients are made from various sources, including Haram sources as well. The products from animal sources which may pose problems are given below:
1. Fresh Meat
There are many types of animals available and these may or may not be slaughtered according to the Islamic law. Some of these animals include chicken, duck, turkey, quail, cattle, goat, sheep, rabbit, venison.
2. Meat Products
Another important group of meat products are those using a mixture of pork and non pork raw material. These include luncheon meat, salamis, various types of sausages etc. In these products pork fat is used instead of beef fat. Of course these products are also available in a form which no pork or lard is added as in kosher salami and beef frankfurter’s. There are also available chicken and turkey roll. If these products contain pork or pork products and are not made from Halal slaughtered animals Muslims will not purchase them.
3. Offal Products
Example of these include liver, lungs, heart, intestines, tripe, brains and blood. Besides direct consumption, some of these can also be processed into value-added products. Intestines in their wet or dry form can be used as casings for various types of sausages. All these must be from animals slaughtered in a Halal manner otherwise the whole product will not be acceptable. Blood on the other hand is never acceptable under any circumstance.
4. Bone and Hide Products
Gelatine which is used in many food preparations is another important animal product. The main sources are skin and bones. The production from skin basically involves an extraction process of several stages with increasing temperatures, filtration and concentration in a vacuum evaporator. On the other hand production from bones would involve the removal of fat, demineralisation and extraction with dilute alkali. Besides being a source of gelatine, bones when converted into bone meal and purified, is used as a natural source of calcium and phosphorus which can be used in paediatric food. The hides of the cattle can be processed into edible crackers, while chicken and pig skin can be emulsified to be used as ingredients in the production of emulsion type sausages. Again if the bones and hides are not from the slaughtered animals these products can not be accepted. Pork and all pig products are prohibited.
5. Fats as Food
Apart from lean meat animal fat has been used as food for man for a long time. Beside being highly digestible and providing high calories, fat plays an important role in adding palatability to the lean meat because of the flavour and aroma it provides. Fats also carry fat soluble vitamins and have essential fatty acids and phospholipid. However, in modern diets, the consumption of fat, especially saturated fats, has been reduced drastically for health reasons.
Animal fat from abattoirs is classified into edible and inedible fats. Edible fats are obtained from certain parts of a carcass which are certified sound and healthy by the Department of Primary Industry (DPI). Edible fats can be used in their original form or further processed by rendering process into tallow from cattle and sheep or lard from pig. The rendering process basically involves heating the fatty tissue under pressure. After cooking, the pressure is released from the cooker and the settled mass withdrawn, purified and deodorised before packing.
The processed meat industry uses a lot of unprocessed fat in the production of various meat products like burgers, sausages and other smallgoods. Back fat from pigs is used substantially in the manufacture of sausages and salamis and is used for frying purposes. Shortening from animal fat are used in bakeries. Only tallow and shortening made from the fats of Halal slaughtered animals can be used.
Emulsifiers such as glycerol mono-stearate, fatty acids as well as glycerine are obtained through further processing of fats, these are being widely used in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Muslims will only consume any of these products if the original animal was slaughtered in a Halal manner.
6. Imitation Pork Products
Bacon and ham are traditional products made from pork. As such, they are clearly Haram. However, these products can also be made from beef and lamb products and are made to resemble the original pork version.
7. Pharmaceutical Products
A number of Pharmaceutical products can be obtained from various animal tissues, especially from the glands like pancreas, thyroid, adrenal, pineal as well as organs like liver, stomach, lungs and also blood as well as other fine chemicals obtained from animals like bovine serum albumin and gelatine which are classified under protein. Bovine serum albumin is sometimes used as a component of moisturising cream and lotions.
Classified under hormones are products like insulin, glucagon, pituitary gland powdered extract, adrenocorticotropin, thyroid and parathyroid, insulin is used for the treatment of diabetes. The pancreas gland of the pigs and cattle are used as the main source of insulin although in recent years, insulin of microbial origin have been used. Glucagon is also obtained from the pancreas gland. It raises blood sugar levels and helps counteract insulin shock resulting from an overdose of insulin. Adrenocorticotropin’s most important medical use in restoring the activity of malfunctioning adrenal glands in human. It can also be used in the treatment of rheumatic disorders such as arthritis, and eye inflammation due to allergies.
Many of these products are made from animals which may pose a problem to Muslims. The relevant religious authorities are aware of such situations. And the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries should be aware if they want to increase their market share in Muslim countries.
It is estimated that the world’s Halal food trade average nearly US$60 billion per year and growing. The existence of such a big market naturally opens the doors of economic opportunities for those engaged in the business, directly or indirectly.
A successful seller is not always the one whose product is exactly the same as of others in the line, but the one who, while producing in the same product line, can cater to the special tastes, preferences and needs of a group of customers which other producers have failed to meet.
Halal food market exists wherever there are Muslim consumers whose tastes and preferences are governed by Islamic law on food specification which calls for Halal
A successful seller is one who, in the same product line, can produce the goods with SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS to meet the SPECIFIC NEEDS of various groups of consumers. In this case Halal food may apparently be the same as others are selling, by its nature, technique of its processing involving the ingredients, handling, use of various methods from the beginning to the end is always the one approved and recommended by Islamic law.
The Halal food trade presents the following challenges:
- Attitude of the suppliers of Halal food products
- Increasing the volume of sales
- Efficient distribution network
- Creating consumer loyalty
1. Attitude of the Suppliers
When a Muslim consumer buys a Halal product, he is doing so because of his commitment to Islamic principles and teachings. But this does not mean that the seller should develop a patronising attitude towards the buyers. This will happen if a seller ignores the tastes and preferences of the buyers, and fails to improve the quality of the product and adopt cost effective methods of production which would enable him to be competitive within the target market.
Today in many Muslim countries, poultry, meat and dairy products are imported from European countries, Australia, New Zealand etc…. and the importing countries are happy because they are not only getting Halal food but also high quality food.
Thus from a marketing point of view, the firm issue in the Halal food trade, is the issue of the exporter’s psychology and his recognition of the golden rule of marketing without which any attempt to promote Halal food exports to Muslim countries are doomed to fail.
2. Efficient Distribution Network
From the producers point of view, there are two types of markets for Halal food:
- The market in Australia
- The market in Muslim countries,
In the case of Australian market the problem is serious because the Muslim communities are scattered. But despite these difficulties one cannot discount the huge potential of Halal food market. The answer is to make the product Halal in the first place and to make it available for all. Also to take part in exhibitions and conferences of the Muslim communities in the various big centres.
For the Market in the Muslim countries , the real issues are:
- honouring the commitment on a regular basis
- maintaining quality
- winning support of the local religious institutions who can certify the product as Halal and who can stand by your claim of Halal status. In addition you are dealing with local distributors, it is important to know their culture, their expectations and their way of saying ‘yes or no”. One should also be ready to learn how things can be made to move in that culture.
Advertising is the key to marketing and sales. From the Halal point of view the advertising strategy depends upon whether a particular market is fully a comprehensive Muslim majority or it is appropriate to emphasise the Halal nature and characteristics of the food so that it attracts the common folks in the society who are the majority.
In a multi-religious society where Muslims are a significant proportion of the population the product can be marked as Halal on the label so that the members of the community are aware of its status as well as promoting the product in the Muslim and ethnic media.
4. Creating Consumer Loyalty
Muslim consumers become loyal when:
- They always get the product they want
- When the supplier has kept his promise
- When the Halal nature of the product is beyond doubt, and some respectable authority stands behind the claim of the producer.
RULES FOR MUSLIM SLAUGHTERMEN REGISTRATION:
- All new applicants for registration must be practising Muslims (such as observing five daily prayers, Friday prayer once a week, and avoiding the haram or forbidden things), reputable persons of good character, allowed to work in Australia, financial members of an Islamic Society and known to at least two prominent Australian Muslims who are prepared to write a reference about them.All Halal Slaughtermen will register with ICWA annually and obtain an Identity Card (I.D.) before they can Halal Slaughter.
- Payment of prescribed registration fee.
- Carry I.D. at all times while doing Halal Slaughter.
- Registration as ICWA slaughtermen depends on approval of the person concerned by the ICWA Halal Committee. The actual registration as ICWA slaughtermen is done by the AUS-MEAT. This registration depends entirely on the approval stroke recognition of the persons concerned by the ICWA. Since it is ICWA approval which is sought, ICWA reserves the right to refuse approval of an application.
- Even if ICWA agrees to approve an applicant, the I.D. card from AUS-MEAT would be obtained normally when the person concerned selected for specific meat work.
- ICWA I.D. card qualifies the person concerned to be considered for employment by an abattoir or a meat work nominated by ICWA. ICWA I.D. cards are not automatically valid for consideration of employment by the concerned companies.
- ICWA does not provide employment to any slaughterman. ICWA I.D. card is also not a guarantee or a licence or a ticket for employment in an abattoir or Halal meat establishments.
- From time to time it may become necessary to advise transfer of services of slaughtermen from one plant to another, or from one level to another within the same plant. This will take place in the event of an absence of a senior slaughterman requiring a replacement by an equally senior slaughterman from another plant or mutual transfer of two slaughtermen in order to maintain communal peace or to remove any possible malpractices. Such transfer of shuffling will take place with the approval of the ICWA Halal Committee. All ICWA slaughtermen would be expected to co-operate in the maintenance of a successful Halal slaughtering and supervision services.
- The Halal Slaughterman will perform all religious duties including slaughter under direct supervision of the ICWA Halal Supervisor/s.
- The supervisor will contact the ICWA Office in the event of any dissatisfaction, with his recommendation. The matter will be investigated by the ICWA Halal Committee.
- The Halal Slaughterman will follow rules of the meat Works and instructions of the Meat Works’ supervisor/manager as long as these do not interfere with the methods and rules of Halal Slaughter and other ICWA requirements and procedures.
3. DISCIPLINARY ACTION:
The Halal Slaughterman registration will be cancelled and barred from all ICWA’S operations in the following cases:-
- He ceases to be a Muslim.
- Does not follow the Methods of Halal Slaughter as stipulated elsewhere in these Rules.
- Commits any serious crime or breaks the important injunctions of Islam, e.g. stealing, lying, drinking alcohol, adultery, causing division in the community etc. etc.
- Consistently fails to provide ICWA with record of daily Halal slaughter or production (cartons,packages) on a weekly basis.
- Fails to adhere to the clear instruction given to him about the conduct of Halal slaughter, meat handling and certification given to him by the Supervisor.
- Does not make sure that what he slaughters as Halal is transferred on to an ICWA Interim Certificate for purpose of authentication of the official ICWA Halal Certificate, or transfer of meat to another plant in Australia.
- Does not make sure that what he produces as Halal ultimately is certified as Halal by ICWA alone and no other person/persons or non-ICWA Certifier.
- Fails to attend a meeting called by the ICWA Halal Committee without a valid reason.
- If found to be guilty of immoral conduct such as abuse of ICWA I.D. card in the following manner:-
- Demanding extra payment from the employer without a valid reason related to work
- Demanding other concessions from the employer not supportable by a valid reason related to work.
- Is guilty of saying or doing things which reflect on ICWA or likely to jeopardise the reputation of the Australian Meat Trade.
- Refuses to accept instructions, written or verbal-from the State Supervisor concerning his relocation within the same plant or another plant within that State or another State. Such relocation may become necessary in the interest of keeping the ICWA services healthy and viable from religious point of view. This refusal will prove that the person concerned has no loyalty to the organisation and is only concerned with his own welfare.All authorities in Australia and overseas importers will be notified of the de-registration.
4. RULES FOR HALAL SLAUGHTER AND HANDLING OF HALAL MEAT:
The animal must be slaughtered by the ICWA’s Registered Halal Slaughtermen. The actual process of cutting the neck must be done by a Muslim.
- While slaughtering the animal, the Muslim Slaughterman must recite the Islamic Prayer: “BISMILLAH-ALLAHO-AKBAR” (in the name of Allah, the Great).
- Animal must be laid on its left side for slaughter.
- The knife used for slaughtering must be sharp so that the animal suffers least agony and slaughter takes place quickly and easily.
- The throat must be severed with a single cut – knife must not be lifted and the cut must be below Adam’s Apple, to be retained on head. The animal slaughtered in such a way that both the respiratory and jugular veins are quickly cut and blood oozes out in full making the animal dead quickly.
- The neck should neither be cut completely nor broken, thus avoiding the severance of the spinal cord.
- There should be no contamination of Halal meat with ‘pig’ meat or non-Halal meat of other animals, either in the abattoir, boning rooms, freezer, chiller or at the time of packing, loading and unloading. This is ICWA responsibility in which DPI officials at the plants are supposed to support ICWA approved slaughtermen.
- The equipment used for killing pigs must not be used for slaughtering animals meant for Halal consumption. The area must also be free of all contamination by pig or non-Halal slaughtering.
ICWA is opposed to stunning of animals before slaughter on religious grounds, because generally speaking the present methods of stunning in Australia are not right from Islamic point of view. Abattoirs have been advised to take steps towards removal of stunning and its replacement with straining devices such as koshers box in respect of cattle and the restrainers in respect of small stock. We have allowed them time during which this could be achieved. In the meantime, all ICWA approved slaughtermen are required to make sure that in case stunning of animal is taking place the following conditions are rigidly enforced:-
- In case of cattle the gun used is properly adjusted and modified (which should only knock the animal as unconscious) concussion device and not a penetrating pistol nor the normal mushroom head gun.
- The slaughter takes place on the floor whilst the animal is still alive.
- In case of an animal who clearly shows that it has not been stunned properly a red tag around its neck should be used as it is unacceptable for Halal purposes. Such rejected animal should be counted and disposed of separately from Halal carcasses at all stages. The clear sign of an animal not stunned properly is that there is a hole in the skull and blood is coming out. That means that the animal has been fatally wounded by a wrong stunning method.
- That after slaughtering the animals should be allowed sufficient time to die as a result of bleeding and not processed until death has taken place.
6. HALAL STAMPS:
An ICWA stamp (both metal and rubber) will be in the custody of the senior DPI official at each plant. ICWA authorised slaughtermen are required to collect the stamp, if necessary in the presence of a company official, from the DPI and take it to the floor where carcasses are to be stamped or to the boning/packing room where cartons are to be stamped. It is the duty of ICWA slaughtermen to make sure that the stamp is collected in this manner and returned to the DPI official. It is also the right and the duty of the ICWA slaughtermen to check and participate in the security arrangements relating to this stamp because ICWA is a party to the stamp. Normally, it is ICWA slaughtermen who would put the stamp on the carcasses or cartons. Variation in this is possible if the acceptable arrangements have been put in place. These arrangements can vary from abattoir to abattoir.
Under no circumstances ICWA slaughtermen should surrender their religious duties as at 4, 5, and 6 above to company or DPI officials.
7. HALAL CERTIFICATION:
ICWA approved slaughtermen will have to sign an ICWA Interim Certificate after making sure that the production recorded tallies with the daily slaughtering/production record maintained by the slaughterman himself. This certificate will come to ICWA Office and ICWA will sign the final certificate only if the details in the Interim Certificate match with those given in the Official Certificate.
8. STATEMENT OF SLAUGHTERING:
All slaughtermen are expected to maintain a record of their daily slaughter or in accordance with boning/packing room, the number of cartons of each type of meat cuts made. This record has to be forwarded to ICWA Office on a weekly basis in the prescribed form. Failure to do this will result in the withdrawal of nomination of the slaughterman.