Windsor Muslims applaud incoming halal regulations

Muslims living in Windsor, Ont. will soon have the peace of mind knowing the halal meat they purchase is, in fact, halal.

'We have to tell people the truth'

Hasan Taweel is a butcher specializing in halal products. He applauds new labelling regulations, but wants to see them go even further. (Joana Draghici/CBC)

Muslims living in Windsor, Ont., will soon have the peace of mind knowing the halal meat they purchase is, in fact, halal.

New federal regulations designed to make sure all food labelled "halal" actually meets those standards came into effect Monday. Up until then, there was no standard for certifying labels and no ramifications for falsely labelling food as halal.

"If we're selling halal meat, we have to be certified," said Hasan Taweel, a Windsor butcher who specializes in halal products. "We have to tell people the truth."  

Food declared halal means it's "permissible" for Muslims to eat.

For animal products, the requirements include blessing each animal before slaughtering it by hand. Taweel said this is an important process for many Muslims.

"It's a big issue," Taweel said. "Eating meat, being cheated, buying fake meat that is not halal … it's a big issue."

He said he believes customers are regularly cheated, since it is very difficult to tell if the animal has undergone the ritual slaughter when making a purchase at the butcher shop. He said he wants to see the regulations go even further to reach what groups are allowed to certify the food.  

"The person is being cheated by the seller," Taweel said. "The person who sells the meat and says it's halal when it's not. That person is a big cheater and he's cheating his customer."

Maryan Amalow works at the University of Windsor and helps make sure international students there know they are eating true halal meat.

Though she does not believe there is any punishment for mistakenly eating false halal products, she said it would be a deep betrayal if a store lied to her.

Maryan Amalow works at the University of Windsor and says she'd feel betrayed if she was served meat that wasn't really halal. (Joana Draghici/CBC)

Amalow applauds the new regulations and hopes to see them enforced.

"For me it's very important," Amalow said. "For someone to sell me something that is not halal and put the label of halal, that's a betrayal. I wouldn't be taking that lightly because that person just insulted my belief."

With a report from the CBC's Joana Draghici