Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Halal food is sensitive and a ‘taboo’ topic

JK’s digest 10 of May 2011 – Halal food is sensitive and a ‘taboo’ topic

Despite it is a ‘sensitive’ issue, I am doing it as a ex deputy president of Sabah Consumers Association better known as CASH and now I am chairman of Koperasi Pengguna with the credit of doing business and not voicing out consumers issues.

I am encouraged to do this as Datuk Nazri told us we can handle anything seditious like what Datuk Ibrahim Ali said “jihad on Christians”. Also UMNO Youth leader call for a freeze on halal certificates subject to full audit. Why?

I tell you this halal matter is damn serious issue and need a book of at least 1,000 pages to deal with it to disseminate such public information to all consumers Muslims and otherwise. But who is going to do that? Don’t fault me for trying this short article hence I am going to ask many questions rather than giving my views. My views maybe misconstrued as anti Islam in short while some people accuse me anti Government when I am anti ILLEGAL government. You know all about the ILLEGAL governments installed by the massive corruption of the Election Commission which had rigged most general elections. You many want to lodge Police Report.

The halal issue is always in the lips of most Muslims especially the pious ones. The issue is the greatest challenge to any consumer and consumer group. So I am going to bring you nearer to the edge of this issue as we can fall any time on this topic.

If your heart is heated now and your pulse is pumping very fast, I am sorry for bringing up this crucial and critical issue. Please cool down now and see the simple logic I am going to touch in our practical lives and practical living.

Who say food is expensive? If it is expensive, why is it that a third of the food is thrown away especially in the western world? You mean you are not throwing away foods especially cooked foods? Go to any restaurant and hotels, you can see that. Aren’t these foods halal? Aren’t these foods tasty? Aren’t these foods clean and healthy? Then why throw away so much foods? Are we also greedy even when we are almost full? Why are foods left on the plates? Were some of these foods recycled and recook in another way to be served again? Were some of the cooked foods leftover from earlier meals? So there are bound to be lots of foods to be thrown away only to be recycled in other ways. Whatever it is foods are going to be very expensive very soon as this sector also needs to catch up to the rising fuel costs.

What has this expensive food to do with thrown away foods? I think some people have to do a survey with this problem. As the west is facing more Muslim immigrants (Muslims want to conquer and rule the world) and more eateries are bound to appear in the market place. Due to the choices available to all consumers and some consumers going for the halal items while some prefer to stick to their own ways, surely more foods would be thrown away when supplies exceed demand resulting in stale foods not uneaten leftover foods.

So many may start to query if such eateries of whatever characteristics are really halal especially those who declare themselves “sell no pork”. I think halal foods go beyond the ‘pork’ issue. Chickens or any animals must be slaughtered in the Islamic ways, if I am not wrong. What else are required to comply with the ‘halal’ issue? I should think it is endless for many although some may compromise for the good of society. Maybe Perkasa can tell us in their next outburst.

I don’t want to bring in the religion connection when we are in a mixed group and the equilibrium can be distorted when consumption is concerned as every eatery has to capture a fair share of the market to stay alive. Some people cannot even sit in a non halal shop. So when the magnet of the majority group is applied, more consumers would be directed to go to the halal eateries so as to keep most people happy when the minority has no choice. By the way, are these eateries really halal if the latest direction from the UMNO Youth leader is to be considered valid? I don’t know the real reason behind this latest directive but there are enough reasons known that had affected the halal certification. The knowledgeable ones, please enlighten me. Most people seem to be happy so far and why now? What had been consumed is done and done with? Good or bad reasons for the freeze are open to debate.

To some people the halal issue can be simple but in the practical aspects it can be very complex. Suffice me to say that in today’s marketplace, there are so many daily items local and imported ranging from the raw items to the processed ones so much so how do we ensure that such foods items are halal in the true sense of the word? Goods and bulky ingredients come from all countries of the world daily and how can we check them for its halal properties? Who are going to pay for those auditing/checking of the food and ingredient items both local and imported? For practical reasons, who would wait for the verification before consuming them? Even for medicine, how do we wait for the verification before the patients consume them in time of sickness?

If you just want a halal certificate from wherever the goods originate, you may get them if those countries want to comply with that for formality sake.

The question of healthwise in term of hygiene may arise on any foods be it halal or otherwise. The begging question is that is any halal item a guarantee against food poisoning or stomach ache?

Would halal foods be more expensive as it has gone through a complete process of vetting? Prices are very sensitive to the consumers, and the public response would be interesting for attention. The choice of hunger and halal may pose a great challenge to many consumers.

There are so many ways to maintain our health – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Some people may hold strong views against consumption of halal foods and some may care to find that out yourself. That is obvious a sensitive issue.

We need to consume all types of legitimate foods available in the market provided they are nourishing and healthy.

Nevertheless, a review of halal certification would be an exercise to alert all consumers. Is the earth that we live on halal or not after so much pollution of all sort? We are what we eat and so it is important that we pay special attention to our foods especially when eating outside. How would we be assured that foods at the eateries are guaranteed halal? How would we be assured that the environment we live in is halal? That is not my problems but this issue is always raised at meeting of the Sabah Consumers Association.

I hope this article can keep us better informed.

Joshua Y. C. Kong

PM of IGGG Malaysia.

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