MANILA, Philippines – The jovial celebration of Eid al-Fitr, literally translated as “breaking of the fast,” once again takes place on August 9, a non-working holiday in the Philippines. Eid al-Fitr is fêted after Ramadan in which adults practice Sawm (fasting) from sunset to sunrise. It is the time when Muslim families congregate with their relatives and friends to share sweet delicacies and other elaborate dishes and drinks. Aside from prayers, cuisines involving the use of halal meat are important in this occasion.
What is Halal meat?
Halal is an Arabic word, which means “permissible.” In food vocabulary, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law, as defined in Koran. The laws require that only certain types of meat can be eaten and that meat must be prepared in a certain way. It is also essential that halal food is not prepared with non-halal food to avoid the risk of cross contamination if a chef accidentally uses the same knife to cut the different types of meat with for example. For a meat to be certified “halal,” it cannot be a forbidden cut (such as meat from hindquarters) or animal (such as pork).
How are the animals slaughtered?
The Islamic form of slaughtering animals or poultry, is called dhabiha. Animals must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter. They must never include nor come into contact with meat from carnivores or birds of prey, and they must be given a clear water to drink. After cleansing the animals, they are turned to face Mecca and killed through a swift cut to the jugular vein, carotid artery, and windpipe. All blood is drained from the carcass by turning them upside down because blood is considered harmful to consume. The draining also keeps the meat fresher for longer. During the process, a Muslim or the People of the Book (Christian or Jew) recites a dedication, known as tasmiya or shahadah (declaration of faith).
Strangulation, beating, goring, or savaging
To be halal meat, animals must be killed quickly in a certain way. It is unacceptable to eat meat from an animal that has been strangled, beaten, gored or savaged by other animals. Despite the issues concerning stunning, according to the Halal Food Authority (HFA), a non-profit organization that supervises the adherence to halal principles, stunning may not be used to make halal meat; but it can be used if the animal survives and is then killed by halal methods, the HFA adds. The purpose of killing the animal swiftly is to give it a sudden drop in blood pressure to the brain, which would render the animal brain dead within seconds. Many researchers have found dhabiha to be less stressful and painful to the animal; thus, less cruel. The intention behind all of this is to ensure that the meat is fresh and free of impurities.
Halal meat accreditation in the Philippines
The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) is a government agency created to carry out the state policy “to ensure the rights and well-being of Muslim Filipinos with due regard to their beliefs, customs, traditions and institutions, as well as to further ensure their contribution to national goals and aspirations and to make them active participants in national-building. ”The National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) has granted accreditation to the following:
- Halal International Chamber of Commerce and Industries of the Philippines, Inc.
- Mindanao Halal Authority (MINHA)
- Muslim Mindanao Halal Certification Board, Inc. (MMHCB)
With the accreditation of halal-certifiers, halal compliance in the Philippines will be strengthened and halal industry will be developed.
Whether celebrating Eid al-Fitr or simply on a hunt for some flavorsome and appetizing alternatives to your usual food fare, Manila is filled with several halal dining places.
Originally Published on http://www.philstar.com