What better way for the Student Association to show Durham College and UOIT students their appreciation than by cooking students up a free meal? The Durham College Student Association hosted a food event to thank students for their support, and to celebrate their success of substituting some items on E.P. Taylor’s menu with certified halal meats.
Siraj Syed is the Vice President of University Affairs for the Student Association at Durham College and UOIT. He helped host the event, and marked it as an important change on campus.
“The purpose was to tell the students that we appreciate them and to let them know that we have, at the Student Association, taken on the initiative this year to be one of the first student associations in North America to go authentically halal.”
The event was hosted outside of E.P. Taylor’s on Oct, 24. There, students were offered free bagels, halal nuggets and burgers, served up under a large blue tent with the Maple Leaf Logo, which read ‘hand slaughtered halal meat’.
The event started at 12 p.m., and went on until at 5 p.m. During that time the Student Association served food to more than 600 students and handed out a 1,000 water bottles.
E.P. Taylor’s had been serving Maple Lodge halal products for sometime, until the Student Association did some digging and discovered the halal meat wasn’t meeting the ritualistic standards.
“We were a little iffy on them,” says Syed. He says Maple Lodge relied on mechanically slaughtering animals, and had minimal oversight to verify that some religious standards were being met.
“We had some questions with regards to their authenticity, their process, how they were being governed and who was checking that they were authentically halal,” says Syed.
In Arabic, the word Halal means permissible, it is an Islamic ritual, which involves ensuring an animal is alive and healthy, before its throat is cut by a sharp blade severing the carotid artery, jugular vein and windpipe in one cut. Allah (God’s) name must be announced at the time of slaughter and the animal must be hanged to allow the blood to drain.
Syed says using a mechanical process instead of a hand slaughter method means that animals can incur unnecessary suffering, which goes against halal principles.
“When you have a mechanical blade going down, the precision of that has to be very accurate to make sure every time the animal passes through the conveyor belt making sure all three veins have to be cut,” says Syed.
The Student Association decided to change its supplier and go with Maple Leaf instead. Syed says Maple Leaf formerly used mechanical slaughter for its halal products, but due to concerns raised by consumers they now use hand slaughter methods.
Maple Leaf Foods Consumer Engagement Specialist Samantha Brown declined an interview request.
Syed says that Maple Leaf has allowed oversight of its halal products by HMA Halal Monitoring Authority, an organization that inspects, regulates and supervises meat companies to ensure they are meeting proper halal protocols. He says the use of HMA has evoked confidence in how the product is handled and whom they’re getting it from.
“We respect the students at the end of the day,” says Syed.
Syed says that halal meat at E.P. Taylor’s is in such a high demand, that they sold out of halal meat at least five times in September.