Food & Beverage

Religion leaders for labelling halal food in Oman

halal1Supermarkets and restaurants across Oman must clearly label all halal meat and specify how animals have been slaughtered on their food packaging, religious leaders say.

In separate speeches in different mosques during the Friday prayers, the imams said owners of supermarkets and restaurants have a duty towards their customers to provide full information about the origin of the meat they sell or serve in their outlets.

“We all have the right to know. These places of businesses must be transparent whether the meat is conforming to Islamic ritual or not. The meat product in the supermarkets must be labelled and restaurants, including fast food outlets, must mention it in the menu,” Shaikh Salim Hamdan, the imam of a mosque in Al Mabelah told the congregation during last Friday’s sermon.

In a separate Friday sermon, another imam went even further. He urged that labelling must be authenticated by religious groups or a trusted organisation.

“Anybody can put up a board or a sign to say they sell halal food but how do we know it is true? It is not just about religious obligations but honesty and integrity. It is also about winning the trust of the customers, knowing that we are not being duped by clever business people looking to make quick money,” Shaikh Khamis Suwaidan, an imam in a mosque in Al Amerat, told worshippers.

A spokesman at the Department of the Environment told the Times of Oman that the government was considering making it mandatory to force all businesses to make it clear whether their meat product is halal or not.

“These considerations are in the pipeline and once such laws are formulated and approved, the move will force all retailers to make a clear distinction what is halal and what is not in the menu or on the shelves. We want all customers to be fully informed before they make a choice. We will also form a committee of experts to go through the authenticity of halal food to check on their origins,” the spokesman said.

The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry, ‘dhabiha’, involves killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe. Animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter and all blood is drained from the carcass. During the process, a Muslim will recite a dedication, known as ‘tasmiya’ or ‘shahada’.

Consumers say they would welcome the labels and also the government’s enforced measures to make sure retailers conform to the rules while selling genuine halal products.

“A label is important but more important is the authenticity of that label. We get meat and chicken flown in from every country of the world and it is very hard to know whether the food you buy truly qualifies as halal. The government’s intervention is needed for this,” Mustafa Al Kamal, an IT engineer working for Public Authority for Radio and Television, told the Times of Oman.

Source: Times of Oman

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