My friend and halal industry colleague Sue Labadi and I often mull over the topic of standards in halal as it relates to the future of the halal economy. We talk about everything from what’s in our food to how far certification processes should go to really grasp the entirety of authentication for the protection of halal consumers and the transparency of companies they certify. These are important topics and we’re really just cracking open the nut, so to speak, to give way to deeper discussions and significant steps forward that are mutually beneficial for everyone in the process: companies, certifiers, consumers. Below is an introduction to an important article she wrote for Salaam Gateway on the topic of creating standards for compliance- don’t overlook this piece as something just for those involved in the halal industry as a professional- you, the consumer are the most important piece of the puzzle.
By Susan Labadi
Some friends in the Halal industry gave me a stark realization a few years ago that made me realize I had to do something to help inform people about the things in our food, cosmetics, and personal care products that are not good for our health and that go against guidances given in Islam. Besides the prohibition of pork and alcohol in food, I learned that most commercial soaps, toothpaste, body lotions and facial products have ingredients originating from pigs. I have always cared about what goes on my skin, as I learned from a doctor who started her own skin care line in the UK that up to 80 percent of what we put on our skin goes into our bloodstream. I appreciate work done by groups like Environmental Working Group (EWG), Organic Trade Association (OTA), and others because I feel they educate and advocate for our health and protection.
I want to do similar work on behalf of the Halal industries through the American Halal Association because there is a need to inform consumers, ask for legislation for consumer protection, and work to help Halal certifiers come to an agreement on standards that will advance our ability to meet the needs of people seeking quality Halal products. There is a range of practices and perceptions about what qualifies as Halal, but we must agree on the essentials and offer a tiered, clearly labeled and identifiable array of choices for consumers. The future of the Halal industries requires thought leadership and pushing for disruption of the status quo. Malaysia and the UAE are leaders in this, and Americans need to realize their role in this scenario.
My article, Food Fraud: The Educated Consumer is the Best Means to Advance Progress in Halal Standards, as featured on Salaam Gateway, reveals some nasty fraudulent incidences on four continents, but it also offers hope in that steps can be taken to improve consumer confidence through enforced systems of compliance. We are making progress, but our best ally is an informed consumer who understands the value of purity, integrity, and demands it. My Halal Kitchen readers are welcomed and encouraged to follow Facebook and Twitter posts of the American Halal Association and Salaam Gateway to keep abreast of current issues in halal food, finance, fashion, travel, etc.. We also encourage Halal businesses to gain membership and join our business directory at www.americanhalalassociation.org.