A week or so ago, Fahim brought home some information on Halal foods that he got from the Sri Lankan HFAC organization. HFAC=Halal Food Awareness Committee. They put out a guide called, simply, "The Guide", where they talk about Halal food issues and also more specifically about foods that are HFAC approved and which ones have had their approval lapse.
Given that I’m not a Muslim, it still made very interesting reading.
One item in particular caught my eye. I’ll quote directly from The Guide, Issue 26, July 2003 on this one:
"Product Alerts!!!! (from eat-halal.com). Most Nestle ice creams contain alcohol in flavourings. A concerned Muslim has tipped off eat-halal.com about the fact that the flavourings in the majority of Nestle ice creams in Canada contain alcohol. Nestle has confirmed that all their ice creams in Canada (including Haagen-Dazs) have alcohol present in their flavourings, except for Nestle Parlour "Chocolate". While eat-halal.com is planning to review with scholars the issue of alcohol in flavourings in the near future, it is still suggested that products containing even small amounts of alcohol be avoided by Muslims."
They then add that "Readers are requested to make note of the last sentence, where it is not the quantity of alcohol that matters, but the mere presence."
Yeah, I’m not Muslim, and I’m not concerned about eating Halal food. I am, however, LDS, aka Mormon, and we ARE concerned about consuming alcohol. Or more accurately, we are concerned with NOT consuming alcohol. And with us, it is also not the quantity that matters, but the presence. We have not been commanded to drink no more than a certain quantity of alcohol, but rather, to not consume alcohol at all.
I’ve consumed Nestle ice cream products, and while I doubt I’ve read every single label, or even most of them, perhaps I should have to make sure that ice cream didn’t contain alcohol. But since I’m not there, there are certain questions I can’t ask. Like is the alcohol in the flavourings listed separately on the ingredient list, or is it included as a lump "flavouring" ingredient? Is it possible for someone reading the labels to know that there’s alcohol in the product?
If not, then I’m disgusted. I thought there was a reason for mandatory ingredient listings in food products in Canada, and if they can get away with including alcohol under "natural and artificial flavorings", then in my mind, we have a problem and the laws regarding ingredient listings need to change.
This is something that Canadian LDS people also need to get involved in, not just the Muslims. And that also goes for anyone else who want all alcohol listed separately on a list of ingredients for whatever reasons you may have, whether it be religious or otherwise.
Back to the HFAC bit.
Fahim told me that Canada has an excellent Halal site, which includes listings of restaurants that serve Halal food. Cool.
HFAC Sri Lanka, however, doesn’t at present time have a web site. They do have The Guide that they put out every quarter, but that’s it. Fahim has volunteered to host the website, design it, etc etc. Yeah, why not? If I was him, I would.
One problem that Fahim has as a Muslim is knowing which restaurants we can eat out at. Since he doesn’t know and doesn’t, at present, have a way to find out, we generally avoid eating out anywhere, or at very many places anyway. There are a few places he knows are safe, but come on, why not have a general listing of all restaurants country wide that are Halal? If Canada can do it, why can’t we?