Halaal Labelling Mishap

It is strictly forbidden for followers of the Islamic faith to consume pork products. Followers of Islam put their trust in retailers and eateries to accommodate these very strict and specific dietary restrictions.

It thus came as a surprise for one hungry local scribe, who as he was browsing the hot food section at Pick ‘n Pay Wernhill Park, noticed a shelf full of hamburgers labelled “halaal breakfast burgers”, despite containing several rashers of what appeared to be bacon.

Halaal is Arabic for permissible. Halaal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Qur’an.

The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry, ‘dhabiha’, follows certain criteria such as how the animal is to be slaughtered. During the process, a Muslim will recite a dedication, known as ‘tasmiya’ or ‘shahada’.

Pork, like alcohol, is strictly forbidden or ‘haraam’ meaning “sinful” in Arabic.

When contacted about the matter, Pick ‘n Pay customer care coordinator Shariva Zender said, “after consulting with the kitchen supervisors at Wernhill Park Pick ‘n Pay, we have deduced that regular breakfast burgers, which do contain bacon, were accidentally mislabelled as Halaal. We regret the mix-up and assure our customers that we at Pick ‘n Pay do our utmost best to respect and accommodate all people and their dietary needs.”

A member of the Windhoek Islamic Centre, who did not want to be named, had this to say. ” As a Muslim, one must always be alert when eating food at an establishment that may not be halaal-friendly or compliant.”

“If you’re in doubt, ask someone! You are only committing sin if you knowingly eat pork products, but if you did so by accident, without knowing or in extreme cases to prevent starvation, then it is not ‘haraam’,” he said.

The environment in which the food is served and prepared is a major factor in whether an establishment can be seen as halaal- friendly.

For one thing, a halaal-friendly kitchen does not serve or keep pork products, nor does it use alcohol in the preparation of dishes.

Whether or not the sale of alcohol has an effect on whether an establishment as a whole can be seen as halaal is still a bone of contention.

In a restaurant, whether the meat is still halaal once it is served in the presence of alcohol, is highly questionable, but is tolerated as business owners need also to accommodate customers who do drink liquor.

Though in a religious sense, the answers remain quite cut and dry. “The Qur’an is clear on these issues and it has not been amended in 1 400 years” said the follower of Islam we spoke to.

Source : The Namibian