So, when we are talking about halal foods it means any foods that can be eaten according to Islamic Sharia law. This means that for any food to be considered halal it must comply with the religious ritual and observance of Sharia law.
What is ‘halal certification’?
This means that food has been subjected to certification systems which guarantee to consumers that nothing in the food has any forbidden components. Halal certificates are issued, for a fee, by a certifying body. The opposite of halal is haram (forbidden).
Food can be forbidden in Islam if it includes:
- Meat or any products from a forbidden animal, including pigs and any carnivorous animals or birds of prey
- Meat or any products of an animal which has not been slaughtered in the correct manner in the name of Allah
Under Islamic law (Sharia) it is permissible (halal) to consume items that would otherwise be termed haram so long as it is a matter of survival and not just an act of disobedience.
Many big food manufacturers pay halal certification fees on their products and pass this cost on to us! Many non-Muslim Australians do not want to pay ‘halal taxes’ however most ‘halal certified’ products are not marked- meaning the consumer cannot easily identify products with the tax applied.
In Australia, the first halal certificate was issued in 1983.
The Australian Government did not regulate this business believing it should be ‘self-regulated’ rather than in government control. As a result, the ‘halal industry’ has spiralled out of control and has become a major revenue earner at our expense. Prior to 1983, and for over 1,300 years, Muslims have eaten foods not ‘halal certified’. Today, however, they demand halal certification, and we pay for something we don’t want and don’t need.
Halal Certification was initially applied to food but now applies to personal care products, utensils, fashion, medicines, clothing, shoes, pet foods, and packaging materials such as cans, drums and plastic bottles. The ‘halal industry’ now makes $ billions each year in revenue. These funds are used by the Muslim community to build mosques, Islamic schools and support Islamic ‘charities’.
The enquiry in 2016 failed to search for links between halal funds and Islamic terrorism, so the question remains whether halal revenue funds illegal or criminal activities.
There are many major companies whose products are ‘halal certified’. Some of these are well-established names such as Cadburys, Kraft, Sanitarium, Kellogg’s, Nestle and King Island Dairy.
The Australian and New Zealand Governments have been remiss in not regulating this ‘third-party’, religious honey-pot of gold! Many halal certifiers are ‘Not-For-Profit’ organizations, meaning no tax is paid on revenue. Being ‘un-regulated’ has allowed the industry to set its own certification fees, in many instances relevant to the businesses ability to pay, and not relevant to the cost of certification.
In contrast, in most predominantly Islamic countries, the government regulates both the fees and revenue from halal certification. This provides certainty in business, fairness in trade, removes price gouging, reduces turf wars and provides the government with an income stream. That fact our government has not seem fit to do likewise is a failure to act in the interests of the majority.
A Senate Enquiry into ‘Third Party certification of food’ was held in 2015. The panel consisted of politicians from both major political parties. At the end of the enquiry seven (7) recommendations were made to the government.
- The Committee recommends that food manufacturers clearly label products which have received third-party certification.
- The Committee recommends that the government, through the Department of Agriculture, consider the monitoring and compliance of halal certification of meat for export; and becoming the sole signatory on the government halal certificate.
- The Committee recommends that the government, through bilateral and multilateral forums, promote greater acceptance of a ‘whole–of-country’, government-led halal certification system.
- The Committee recommends that the government consider requiring certification bodies to register their operations under certification trademarks.
- The Committee recommends that the government consider requiring that halal certification of goods in the domestic market comply with the standard agreed for export.
- The Committee recommends that the halal certification industry consider establishing a single halal certification authority and a single national registered certified trademark.
- The Committee recommends that meat processors clearly label products sourced from animals subject to religious slaughter.
Now several years later, the halal certification industry in Australia has grown. It is estimated that Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of halal food products. In 2015, this was reported to be $13billion. Such is the lure of ‘easy halal certification money’ and no-regulation, Australia has become the ‘halal-honey-pot’ , hosting the worldwide Halal Expo each year.
- Halal Certification is an excellent ‘religious-based- business- model’ especially lucrative in unregulated countries, where politicians and governments are afraid of being labelled ‘racist’
- In Australia, Halal Certification revenue has not yet been found to fund terrorism, however, the concern remains
- If Australian’s wish to ensure their money is not used for criminal related activities, they should start by avoiding halal certified goods, services and products.
- Voters should contact their local federal MP and ask when the seven recommendations handed down by the Senate committee on 1st December 2015 will be adopted to deliver certainty, transparency and fairness for all