[This article was published in the 9th issue of Nida'ul Islam magazine (), August-September 1995]

Special Report on Halal Food in Australia


HALAL Labelling, An Interview With FRANKLINS

The emergence of an awareness concerning the obligation of Muslims to consume Halal products has filtered through to various firms. They have begun to realise that there is a large Muslim community in existence whose essential requirement of only consuming products lawfully prescribed by Allah must be fulfilled. Franklins, Lakemba has just engaged upon a project whereby products ascertained to be Halal have been so labeled. Encouraged by this initiative, Nida'ul Islam held the following interview with the Manager of Franklins in Lakemba, Mr Lewis Lee.

Nida'ul Islam: How did you become aware of the requirement for Muslims to eat Halal products?

Franklins: Although I have only been in this store for seven months, it became rapidly clear to me that the majority of our clientele are in fact Muslims. The manager before me had already contacted Mohamed (from the Islamic Council), in connection with obtaining a list specifying which products are classified as being Halal. During my first month here, AFIC contacted me and discussed with me their plans to introduce a Halal labeling system, and whether I was interested in somehow highlighting the the halal products.

Nida'ul Islam: What encouraged you to engage upon this project?

Franklins: Basically, I see it as an opportunity for our store to serve the community in term of highlighting those products which are halal, seeing that most of our customers are Muslims. Previously, the cashiers were regularly questioned about products as to whether they were halal, and the cashiers have no proper understanding of product contents. This new system places more certainty with respect to what the consumer wishes to purchase, easing some of that anxiety which was previously apparent.

Nida'ul Islam: Who did you consult with during this whole process?

Franklins: Initially, I wrote out a report on the issue of halal products; namely, on how we could effectively identify such products. Thereafter, we contacted our head office and got approval for this project. The representative of AFIC contacted our state manager, and a contract- between the head office and AFIC- was drafted and then agreed upon.

As such, we are certified with the proper agencies, and our customers can be assured of this.

The products which have been checked for contents are highlighted with a green ticket on all the certified products.

Nida'ul Islam: Do you regularly update your list, and how?

Franklins: Yes, we make sure that the products listed as halal are actually still classified as such. We are regularly sent a new listing of halal products, and so we are kept in touch with product ingredient changes.

Nida'ul Islam: How much of the products have been checked?

Franklins: Not all of the products have been checked yet. What we actually do is we simply highlight those goods which we are confident are halal, as specified in the list provided by the Islamic Council. The goods listed have been thoroughly checked by people knowledgeable in that sphere. Of course, any new item declared halal, or not halal for that matter, is immediately so identified.

Nida'ul Islam: Was this project a local initiative, or did it come from head office?

Franklins: We actually initiated this project, as a direct result of the influence our customers have on our store. We recognised that Lakemba has a large Muslim community, and thus we are attempting to recognise the urgent needs of our customers, and trying to help them in any way possible.

Nida'ul Islam: Have other Franklin stores been made aware of this particular issue?

Franklins: There are other areas with a sizable Muslim community, among these being Auburn, Bankstown, Roselands, and so on, who also shop at Franklins. I have personally spoken with the manager of the Auburn branch, and have made him aware about this issue.

Basically, this project will be an example for other stores to follow; so, if this is successful in our Lakemba store, it will be implemented in the other stores where Muslims are available.

Nida'ul Islam: Have you received any feedback?

Franklins: Some customers have responded to this. We actually did have some customers curious about items such as cleaning agents, and why they were necessary. We haven't really received much feedback though to be honest. This is actually the first big feedback we have had.

Nida'ul Islam: Are you committed towards this project?

Franklins: Yes, we most certainly are. We began this with the view to helping the Muslim community, and are determined to keep on doing so. It is also our wish to make the rest of the Muslim community aware of our efforts, to let others know that they can be confident that when they come to purchase a product here with a green ticket, it is halal.


HALAL AND HARAM PRODUCTS:
CLEARING THE COBWEBS OF IGNORANCE

Franklin's Lakemba has become the first supermarket in Australia to have Halal Accreditation by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC). If this experiment is proved to be successful, it will be implemented in other Franklin's stores, and perhaps other supermarkets will take-up the idea. Our support for this type of project is essential if we are to be sure that the products we buy are permissible.

By placing a green tag in exchange of the white one, Muslims no longer need to carry a list of mysterious numbers and check the ingredients each time they go shopping. It must be noted however that the marked items are not the only Halal items, but only the ones which have been checked and confirmed.

It is unfortunate and a calamity that many people do not realise the enormous importance of consuming Halal products, and will ignore suspicious ingredients and numbers, with the argument that all you have to do is say "Bismillah." What do numbers such as 471 mean, and is gelatine all right? How can items such as soaps be Haram? Let us begin with the big one- Gelatine

Gelatine is classified as food according to the EEC's Codex Alimentarius, and is a derivative from animals. This is where the problem lies.

Allah in the Holy Qur'an forbids the eating of the flesh of swine unambiguously in II:173, V:4, VI:145 and XVI: 115. All the four Imams have agreed that that all parts of the animal are forbidden as food including its nails, hair, skin, fat, bones and teeth.

Gelatine is a water soluble protein found in all parts of the pig in different concentrations, and remains a protein during any production process. When we purchase any product with Gelatine in it, we are most likely to be consuming pork fat; even if it were not from swine, it is most likely not to be from a halal sauce.

By law, manufacturers are required to list the ingredients of their products, and they usually do so through the numbering system. So when we hear of halal and Haram numbers, we must be conscious of the Islamic rulings towards these ingredients. Take emulsifiers for example. Most emulsifiers are based on stearic acid, extracted from animal fats. This substance starts as such, is extracted as such and does not change its state to anything other than stearic acid. As such, any food containing emulsifiers are generally considered to be Haram, since all emulsifiers are made from animal fats (including pork), except 322, 471 and 476 which can be made from Halal ingredients.

Below is a brief list of items and why they can be Haram, although people may not consider them to have any Haram substances:

* Tinned vegetables can be Haram. Not all of course, but the ones with sauces can have emulsifiers added.

* Frozen vegetables containing sauce can be Haram. Be careful for frozen sauces, for when frozen they separate, and for this reason emulsifiers are added to stop this phenomenon.

* Breadcrumbs, batters and fillers can be Haram. Bread is made with emulsifiers to make them appear soft and fresh, so it stands to reason that breadcrumbs made from Haram bread are Haram. Batters contain water, water separates when defrosted, emulsifiers (Haram!!!) stop the separation. Fillers can have 21 Haram flavourings, and or Haram fats!

* Vegetable or blended vegetable oils can be Haram. Vegetable shortening and margarine's contain emulsifiers again and are described in food as vegetable oil or blended vegetable oils. It is misleading but lawful.

* Vegetable shortening, animal fats and some margarine's are Haram. Animal fats are made by collecting trimming from abattoirs and butcher shops to make fats. As for margarine's, they contain emulsifiers that can be Haram or whey powder made with Haram rennet.

* All soaps contain animal fats. To be called soap it has to contain animal fats. This item is controversial, and will not be discussed here.

* Bread containing dried yeast is Haram: dried yeast contains Haram substances so it stands to reason that bread made with dried yeast is Haram!

I'm sure there are people who will still ignorantly consume products described here as Haram. Remember that when you knowingly do so, you are openly disobeying your Creator, who will in turn not answer your supplications.

The Prophet (s.a.w) has predicted the day when people eat the forbidden by calling it something else, and the Qur'an states :"But say not any false thing that your tongues may put forth, this is lawful and this is forbidden so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah will never prosper.."

NOTE: This article was prepared with the help of brother Mohamed El-Mouelhy, who is responsible for giving the Halal Accredidation. We stress that the information supplied is not fake, nor from hearsay, or from an amateurs point of view, but rather from a qualified food technologist. If you have any further queries as to which products are halal, or why the mentioned ingredients are Haram, please contact Mohamed on the the Halal Hotline, phone number: (02) 232 6731 during business hours or fax (02) 223 8596. Alternatively you can write to Mohamed c/o Halal Helpline, 14 Martin Place, Sydney 2000.

Prepared by Nida'ul Islam, with the cooperation of brother Mohamed El-Mouelhy


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