Due Diligence – It all starts with you

In a world where you can order any type of cuisine to your front door at the press of a button, in a world where you can pop something you brought from the shop minutes earlier into a microwave and have a substantial meal and in a world where technology is literally at our fingertips – it is at our own peril to be either mis or uninformed.
Whilst technology has assisted our lives in an inestimable number of ways, this assistance is somewhat of a double-edged sword. We are now living in a world where ‘fake news’ is just as easy to publish and pass on as real, tangible, fact-based information. We must exercise our own sound judgment and not digest – and circulate – information blindly; we owe this to our children, future generations and ultimately, to ourselves in the hereafter.

Muslims and meat

Reports show that the Muslim community makes up 5.1% of the population of the UK; along with the supply to the halal restaurant and takeaway trade, our community consumes a mammoth 46% of all UK-produced poultry. Those numbers speak for themselves, but to put it into perspective a little bit: Muslims in the UK consume up to 8 times more meat and poultry than their non-Muslim counterparts – and this trend can be observed across Europe.

What is halal?

Directly translated, the term ‘Halal’ is the Arabic word for ‘permissible’ and halal food is that which adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Qur’an. The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry involves killing through a cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery and windpipe. The fundamentals of halal slaughter include but are not limited to:
• The animal must not be dead prior to slaughter
• A Muslim must perform slaughter
• Any flowing blood of the carcass must be completely drained
• Choice of modern / in vogue methods of slaughter need to be considered with caution and should be in line with Islamic principles

Due diligence is required from YOU, the consumer

In a world where we can be anything – we should at the very least be informed. Whilst it cannot be denied that reputable Halal certification bodies across the world can be trusted to provide a conscious and trustworthy service in certifying food and products as ‘halal’, ultimately it is down to ourselves as individuals to actively question and ascertain whether the food and products we are consuming are permissible Islamically.
Just last month a damning article appeared in the Asian Express, exposing the fact that rogue butchers are serving up gas-killed, non-halal chicken at the counter in some parts of the UK. These retailers themselves admit that they would not eat their own stock as they know that it doesn’t adhere to halal guidelines. You can read that article here.

Due diligence is required now more than ever to ensure we are informed of what exactly is going into our bodies.

Questioning ingredients should be as second nature as requesting a menu
Contrary to popular belief, ‘halal’ does not just refer to meat. There are several E-numbers present in popular confectionery items that have been derived from non-halal animal sources. You can find a list of these E-numbers here. Gelatinous food items are also a problematic area – one may not necessarily think twice about ordering a Panna Cotta with raspberry coulis when out for dinner, but how can one be sure that the gelatine used in the dessert is permissible? Quite simply, if you don’t ask – you won’t know.
We suggest that when you dine out, and you cannot be sure of all the ingredients that have been used in your meal, if the dish is not listed as ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ on the menu – and the restaurant itself has not been halal-certified – speak to your server or Maître d’hôtel. As consumers, we are all perfectly within our rights to check on whether any animal-products have been employed in the creation – and plating – of the dishes we are planning to consume.

The World Halal Authority (WHA) encourages all consumers to treat non-halal items as allergens – these items should be treated as harmful to our bodies, mind and souls. In a world where convenience presides everything else, it is incredibly easy to find halal alternatives for the foods or products you may be missing.
Questioning ingredients should be as second-nature as requesting a menu; this also translates when doing your weekly supermarket shop – if you have any questions about a product, use the tools you have at your fingertips. If you can’t find the information you’re looking for on a company’s website, find their social media handles and ask them.
Gone are the days of ignorance – now, we have no excuse. We have been given free-will and what we do with it is down to us. We’ll all be questioned at the end of it all – it is up to us to ensure we have the right answers.

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