Saudi Arabia has called on all non-Muslim countries which export halal products to tighten their adherence to Islamic regulations, and has requested that an approved set of guidelines be drawn up to help importers ensure these are being met.
The call came during the First International Conference on the control of Halal Food, which was held in Riyadh last week and organised by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA).
It looked at key issues concerning halal food production, including stunning and automated mechanical slaughter, halal food in the light of the Qur’an, control and supervision of halal food, the economic and strategic development of global halal trade, and permissible food additives, including those produced by nanotechnology and genetic modification.
SFDA president Mohammed Al-Kanhal told delegates the guidelines should cover a wide range of issues, stipulating everything from how animals should be slaughtered (by prophetic, or non-stun, slaughter), to the feed and additives that could be fed to the livestock.
He said: “Such resolutions should be forwarded for necessary consideration by the Muslim World League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”
Professor Maha M Hadi, chairman of the nutrition department in Cairo University, told the delegates: “If you eat meat, you must be concerned about what the animal or poultry were fed.”
She said: “Regarding halal and haram in animal feed, we should be concerned with the origin of each ingredient and additive used in animal feed.”
Mohammed Saleem, policy director of the UK’s Association of Non-Stun Abattoirs (ANSA), welcomed the guidelines as a positive signal. He said: “The conference proves one fundamental point – given the choice, Muslims throughout the world prefer the prophetic method of slaughter. This is a fantastic opportunity for ANSA members to supply quality English halal meat and poultry to the Middle East market”.
The conference was held with the backing of the Saudi government. The SFDA hopes repeat the success of the inaugural conference and exhibition, and is planning to hold another in 2014.