Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
WE WANT HALAL DELI!
The Islamic Food And Nutrition Council Of America conducted surveys at the Islamic Society of North America and Muslim American Society conventions in Chicago over Labor Day weekend. One of the questions we asked was: Do you purchase deli items? If the response was negative, a follow up question was asked: Would you purchase deli items if they were Halal certified. 94% of respondents said they would purchase Halal certified deli items if such items were available.
The overwhelming response is not surprising in light of the Divine guidance to "Öeat of (meats) on which ALLAH's name has been pronouncedÖ" and to "Önot of (meats) on which ALLAH's name has not been pronouncedÖ". Last month, we discussed this topic at length. The practical results of this guidance is that Muslims in the West are looking for food products that are Halal certified but cannot always find them. When suitable products are not available, they have to do without them. The survey gives us an idea of what products the Muslim consumer wants, but cannot easily find in the marketplace. The signal to the food producers and marketers is: there is a large demand for Halal certified products.
The responses to the survey give us a better understanding of the shopping habits of the Halal consumer. For more information, please contact IFANCA.
During October, IFANCA will visit the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis. Dr. Muhammad Chaudry, President of IFANCA will lead a workshop on Halal Food during the Adult Education Program.
IFANCA and the Shura Council of Southern California will sponsor Halal Food 2000 in Buena Park, California during November 12-14. Browse the website for more information and a registration form. This promises to be an excellent conference. We look forward to seeing all of you there.
During September, IFANCA attended the ISNA and Muslim American Society conventions in Chicago. IFANCA staff conducted a survey among the attendees and answered questions about products and ingredients. See the accompanying article We Want Halal Deli! for more information on the survey results.
The Amigos Mexican Grill, a Mexican restaurant in the Seattle area, has converted their menu to a Halal menu. Pork dishes have been discontinued and other meat dishes have been converted to Halal. According to the manager, this was done in response to the many requests for Halal food. Congratulations to the Muslims of Seattle for bringing about this change. (Reported in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 7, 2000)
In Saudi Arabia and Yemen, over 200 people have died from an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever. The disease is carried by livestock and transmitted to people by direct contact or from mosquitoes. Neighboring countries have banned the import of some African livestock to prevent the spreading of the disease. (Reported in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 24, 2000.)
The Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency, has won a United Kingdom patent on new technology to bottle and market a coconut water as an energy drink. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonlin.com)
The safety of the food supply is of utmost importance to all people. Different countries use different methods and agencies to monitor and control food safety. In the United States, a number of federal and state agencies control food safety. The following agencies play a role in ensuring the safety of the food we eat:
The US Department of Health and Human Services - Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA overseas all food (except meat and poultry), bottled water and wine with less than 7% alcohol. They inspect food facilities, analyze samples, approve food additives and colorings, approve the use of animal drugs, monitor animal feeds, issue guidelines on food preparation, establish manufacturing guidelines (HAACP), request manufacturers to recall unsafe food products, conduct research on food safety and enforce the law.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They oversee all foods. They investigate food-borne disease outbreaks, maintain disease surveillance, develop public health policies and train local food safety personnel.
The US Department of Agriculture - Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The FSIS oversees all meat and poultry and related products and processed eggs. They inspect animals before slaughter, inspect slaughter facilities, inspect processed eggs, analyze samples, establish standards for additives and ingredients in packaging meats, establish plant sanitation guidelines, inspect imported meats, seek voluntary recalls of unsafe products, sponsor research on meat and poultry safety and educate the industry on safe practices.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA oversees the drinking water. They establish safe drinking water standards, regulate wastes and toxic substances, monitor water quality, and set tolerance levels for food pesticide residues.
The US Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA oversees fish and seafood products. They inspect and certify fishing vessels, processing plants and retail facilities.
The US Department of the Treasury - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The ATF oversees alcoholic beverages, except wine with less than 7% alcohol. They enforce safety laws governing the production and distribution of alcoholic beverages and investigate adulteration of alcoholic products.
The US Customs Service. The Customs Service oversees imported foods. They work with other agencies to ensure all imports and exports meet US laws.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC oversees all foods. They enforce laws that protect consumers from unfair, deceptive or fraudulent practices, including deceptive advertising.
City, County and State Health, Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agencies. These agencies oversee all foods within their jurisdiction. They work with the FDA and other federal agencies to implement safety standards, inspect restaurants, retail food establishments, grocery stores, dairy farms, milk processing plants, grain mills, and food manufacturing plants, and they can stop the sale of unsafe foods within their state borders.
In addition to these agencies, the following agencies provide training and educational materials related to food safety or prosecute violators of food safety regulations:
The National Agriculture Library USDA/FDA Food-borne Illness Education Information Center. The center maintains educational materials on preventing food-borne illnesses.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ prosecutes violators of food safety laws and uses the US Marshals Service to seize unsafe food products.
Inspite of all the effort put into ensuring the safety of the food supply, food-borne illnesses affect 6 - 33 million Americans every year. The complications of genetic engineering of new food products adds to the challenges of maintaining a safe food supply. With all these agencies looking after us, we might feel like we donít have to do anything ourselves. That is not so. Individuals and food service personnel must practice safe food handling. And if it doesnít look or smell right, it probably isnít.
Another recipe from the IFANCA book, Islamic Dietary Laws and Practices. The recipe is for:
Stuffed Grape Leaves
2 large onions, minced 1 tsp. salt ¾ cup olive oil 2 tbsp. pine nuts Salt and pepper to taste 1 cup water 1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped (save stems) ½ cup parsley, chopped (save stems)
2 tbsp. water 2/3 cup long grain rice 2 tbsp. lemon juice 2 tbsp. currants 12 oz. jar of grape leaves 1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
Put onions in a saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of water and 1 teaspoon salt, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from fire, mix with rice, add ½ cup oil and mix well. Add mint, dill, parsley, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, pine nuts, currants, salt and pepper, then blend. Wash grape leaves to remove all brine and separate leaves. If leaves are very large, cut them in half. Place 1 tablespoon filling on the rough side of each leaf, fold leaf from the sides to the middle covering the filling and roll up tightly. Arrange the dill and parsley stems in the bottom of a saucepan and add the remaining oil and lemon juice. Place rolls on top of the stems, cover them with wax paper and place a plate over the wax paper to weigh the rolls down. Cook over gentle heat for 1 hour, until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked. Add more water during cooking, if needed. When cooked, remove from pan and cool. Serve garnished with lemon wedges. Makes 30 pieces.