Halal monitoring authority

Genuine Halal Meat?


Canada’s halal meat business is booming – but are Muslims getting what they pay for? Vision TV took on the investigation and found that everything was not quite so kosher with Canada’s halal meat industry.

When Sohail Raza of Toronto sits down to a family dinner, he doesn’t just worry whether there are helpings enough for all. He also worries that the meal might offend his god.

Raza is a Muslim. His faith demands that all meat he consumes be halal: blessed and hand-slaughtered by a Muslim, and untainted by any contact with pork. Until recently, it has been difficult to find halal meat in Canada – and even now, Muslims can’t always be sure that what they’re buying is genuinely halal.

On its next edition, the VisionTV current affairs series 360 Vision finds out how Canadian Muslims deal with this challenge to their efforts to live – and eat – according to their faith. The program airs on Thursday, Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. ET, and repeats on Monday, Feb. 6 at 10 p.m. ET.

With almost one million Muslims now living in Canada, the market for halal meat is booming. However, there is no universally recognized body to establish and enforce standards for all producers and distributors. In effect, anyone can slap a label on a product and call it halal.

In 2004, Imam Omar Subedar and his colleagues at the Canadian Council for Muslim Theologians launched an extensive investigation into the halal meat industry. To their dismay, they found that the majority of operations they inspected were not meeting the halal requirements. “I would say that 90% of the meat we are consuming does not comply with the rules of halal,” the Imam tells 360 Vision’s Donna Young.

The Council has recently established a non-profit Halal Monitoring Authority, modeled on a similar body in the UK, in the hope of cleaning up Canada’s halal meat business. But for now, Muslims like Sohail Raza must live with the knowledge that the food on their plates may not be what it seems.

“It troubles me, because somebody else is misusing my faith,” Raza says.

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