Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Impossible seeks halal status for plant-derived pork but certification may not be forthcoming

Salaam Gateway

Impossible Pork, a plant-derived product, is seeking halal certification, according to the manufacturer, but it is not clear if certification will be forthcoming.

California-based Impossible Foods released its pork substitute at the beginning of the year. The company’s earlier product, the Impossible Burger, was at the end of 2018 halal-certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) under regulations set by Malaysia’s Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM).

“We will seek halal and kosher certification as we did with the burger,” an Impossible company spokesperson told Salaam Gateway in an email.
IFANCA would not reveal whether it will certify Impossible Pork.

“We do not comment on pending applications for halal certification, but we can confirm if a product is certified or not. We are certifying the Impossible™ Burger,” said IFANCA in an email to Salaam Gateway.

“We have not certified Impossible Pork,” added IFANCA.

Halal certification for plant-based pork is controversial.

While pork is haram (not permissible) under Islamic law, plant-based alternatives to pork may not contain any haram ingredients.

However, under JAKIM's rules, which are widely regarded as a benchmark for the global halal certification industry, halal certification will not be awarded to a product that starts off from a haram standpoint, such as zero percent alcohol beer.

It is an opinion echoed by other certification bodies.

The UK’s Halal Trust, a certifying body, said it would not grant halal certification to a plant-based pork substitute like Impossible Pork.
“I would never certify it even if it is technically halal, because the word “pork” could create problems and confusion,” Shoeeb Riaz, operations director at the Halal Trust, told Salaam Gateway.

“Would most Muslim consumers’ reaction be positive or negative? And once the genie is out of the bottle, where would you stop?” he added.

IFANCA clarified its policy: "In general, we do not certify products whose names contain certain words that are normally associated with haram products, such as pork."

Impossible Foods did not state whether it was seeking halal certification for Impossible Pork with IFANCA or another halal certification body.

Riaz said it would be a controversial move for IFANCA to certify Impossible Pork.

“Why would IFANCA want to certify a product which has the word pork in it? It would delegitimize themselves amongst Muslim consumers,” he said.

Phuture Meat, a Malaysian food start-up that launched a plant-based pork last year, was the subject of media scrutiny following reports claiming the product was halal.

The company denied it was seeking halal certification. “We are currently 100 percent focusing on the Chinese market,” Phuture’s co-founder, Jack Yap, told Salaam Gateway in August.

Syria's economy goes from very bad to worse as Lebanon's crisis hits

Lebanon's financial woes have further hit the flow of dollars in Syrian markets, as Damascus deals with a crumbling economy

Syrians shop in the Hamidiya bazaar in the old city of Syria's capital Damascus in 2007 (Paul Cochrane)

When the United States, the European Union and the United Nations imposed sanctions on Syria in the first year of its civil war in 2011, they were intended to financially squeeze the government of Bashar al-Assad.
But Lebanon was also caught in the crosshairs, pressured to curb Syria's access to the global financial system given the longstanding banking ties between the two states.

When Syria nationalised its banks in the 1960s, it was to Lebanon that private capital fled. Banks were established there by Syrian investors, such as BLOM Bank, the country’s third largest, which is still managed by the Azhari family.
"It's pretty historical in terms of the relations between the Syrians and the Lebanese banking sector," said Jihad Yazigi, editor of the Syria Report, an economics news bulletin.

Throughout the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) and the Syrian occupation until 2005, it was Lebanon that acted as a foreign exchange hub for Damascus. Syria had been a closed economy, and it had been illegal to trade dollars outside of state-owned banks.

After the Syrian withdrawal following massive demonstrations in Beirut in the spring of 2005, and the liberalisation of the Syrian economy, Lebanese banks opened five affiliates in Syria.

"The dependency on Lebanon decreased as international transfers were allowed [in Syria], although Lebanon was considered safer, and had banking secrecy," said Yazigi.

Indeed, leaked US embassy cables from 2008 stated that individuals close to the Assad elite had accounts under different names in Lebanon, including sanctioned billionaire businessman and cousin of Assad, Rami Makhlouf.

To read the rest go to Middle East Eye