Health concerns see members of other religious groups seeking advice
on suitable foods. Non-Muslims are becoming part of the estimated
635-billion worldwide halaal (permissible) market, South African
National Halaal Authority (Sanha) revealed last week.
“More people are going for halaal foods. From the e-mails we
receive, even non-Muslims are focusing on halaal foods because of
health safety aspects,” said Ebi Lockhat, spokesman for the South
African National Halaal Authority (Sanha).
“We have letters from people of the Hindu faith enquiring about
animal gelatine in yoghurts. They have sufficient trust in us to
enquire if a certain product contains animal extract. We tell them
if it is halaal and whether it contains animal extract or not”, he
He said some people may wonder why there is such a strong emphasis
on halaal foods when the Muslim community forms only a small
percentage of the population. “The Muslim law is such that what you
can’t consume, you can’t sell.”
He said halaal was not confined to food, but extended also to
pharmaceuticals. “There is a big drive into pharmaceuticals, with
people questioning if certain things like vitamins contain animal
Abdul Wahab Wookay, CEO of the National Independent Halaal Trust,
agreed that there was a growing interest among non-Muslims,
including Hindus, in halaal food.
“The demand globally is growing tremendously,” said Wookay.
Hindus are turning to halaal authorities to determine whether
certain foods are suitable for their consumption. Hindus, according
to religious requirements, are prohibited from eating food products
that contain animal extracts, including beef.
This is despite the fact the South African Hindu Maha Sabha the
governing body of Hindus has the Shuddah symbol, which
endorses certain foods acceptable for Hindu consumption.
Divesh Maharaj, a spokesman for the Vaishnava Research Forum, which
has been investigating the presence of animal extracts in certain
foods, said there was a need for more Hindu organisations to be
proactive in the listing of products suitable for Hindu consumption.
“At the moment, it is very limited. Our organisation has been
looking at this on an ongoing basis. We have been providing the
community with information and educational programmes. We constantly
contact manufacturers to update our listings,” said Maharaj.
But Rugbeer Kallideen of the South African Hindu Maha Sabha said the
halaal market did not cater for Hindus.
“There is a big difference between us (Hindus) and the halaal
market. The Muslim community eats meat. It’s the slaughtering
process which makes it halaal-compliant. According to the Hindu
scriptures, meat is forbidden. We promote vegetarianism,” he said.
Meanwhile International delegates will gather at the Gallagher
Convention Centre, Johannesburg, for the 4th International Halaal
Conference coming Sunday. The conference will look at the importance
of halaal in the food and beverage industry.