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Halal Certificates

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Life styles in Sri Lanka have been rapidly changing, and one of the foremost among them is the habit of eating out. Whereas once traditionally, a home cooked meal was the norm, where the mothers and grandmothers considered it their prime duty to prepare the best for the children and grandchildren and took pride in serving them. Today housewives are either too lazy, too busy, do not know to prepare meals like their parents or grandparents or just want to keep up with the Joneses and join the brigade to troop into a restaurant for their meals or prefer a take-away to enjoy it at home; be it junk foods or a ‘Kothu’, - about the quality and freshness of its fillings - well your guess is as good as mine.

Restaurants have jumped up to cash in and penetrate this ‘Halal’ clientele and the catch word today is "All Food Served is Halal" in order to attract different segments of the ethnic mix in the country. Into this fray comes the issue of "Halal Certificates" to restaurants classifying them as serving Halal food – in effect certifying that all food served in the particular restaurant conforms to the accepted religious beliefs of a particular ethnic group who would not otherwise patronize these places.

What guarantee do those who issue these certificates have that the restaurants that display these certificates are adhering to the strict religious principles in ensuring that the food served there is Halal? Do they appoint representatives to supervise or just issue the certificates on application or for a fee? Or do they arrange to supply the Halal meat and other meat products to the restaurants? Even if this is the case, what prevents the hotelier from purchasing from another source which is not Halal? Also no one can prevent him from selling meat which is prohibited by some ethnic groups in the country. He is well within the law.

Halal segment is a multi-billion dollar business today and Halal Food Exhibitions are held in most parts of the world. But in the name of Halal, the religious principles of an ethnic group should not be allowed to be commercialized by those marketing a mixture of Halal and non-Halal foods. If the expectations are not met, those who issue Halal Certificates will have to pay the price, if not here, definitely in the hereafter.

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