UK: Importance of Europe for the development of a global halal industry

Importance of Europe for the development of a global halal industry

Globalia Magazine, Germany, visits World Halal Forum Europe

How is the European halal market developing? It was with this question in mind that an invitation was extended by the World Halal Forum Europe to a two day forum in London about the future of the European halal market. The woman founder of the forum, Hajja Jumaatin Azmi, reminded people in her opening address to the forum of the “importance of Europe for the development of a global halal industry”. The European halal foodstuff market has long since achieved a turnover of billions, already more important than the market in some Arabic states, and is supplied by Muslim and non-Muslim producers from all over the world.

The project director of the professionally organised event, Abdulhamid Evans, highlighted future perspectives, saying “Muslim purchasing power is a manifest aspect of the presence of millions of Muslims in Europe who have felt at home here for a long time.” Evans also stressed that in the important area of foodstuffs “halal products” should also be products of quality – ideally even the best products. Evans explained that many firms or certification bodies engaged in this area are still not operating professionally enough.

The British foodstuff expert and jurist John Pointing pointed to the downside of the foodstuff market. Muslim consumers are often mislead regarding the quality of sausage and meat products. “I almost became a vegetarian”, remarked the expert regarding his experiences with imported halal meat. There is no doubt that in the highly competive global business – with small profit margins– there also exists a real “foodstuff mafia” (who also use brand names), who have no relation to genuine Islamically motivated quality controls.

With these facts Pointing also accounted for the growing trend in Europe towards regulating foodstuffs and providing information as to their provenance and quality. “Muslims”, advised Pointing, “should bring the brand name ‘halal’ critically into question.”

The lawyer Philip Pfeffer familiarised the audience with EU plans to make the specific labelling of halal products obligatory. What is planned is the obligatory labelling of goods produced from slaughtering which is subject to Jewish and Islamic legal rulings – partly therefore also from animals which have not been stunned before being killed. There would then be a notice on such products informing that it is “meat from animals not subject to pre-slaughter stunning”.

Pfeffer called upon all Jewish and Muslim consumers to reject this “discriminatory obligation to label” and to stand up for their consumer rights. He warned of the general tendency to “scandalise normal religious practices” in Europe.

Pfeffer also criticised the European DialRel-Programme. In this EU sponsored programme two dozen European academics discussed the slaughtering methods of certain religions. “Unfortunately the problem lay with the scientists and scholars”, according to Pfeffer, “who argued that more harm is caused to the animals by a professional slaughtering in accordance with the proper Jewish and Islamic rules”.