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NUTRITION

Good source of proteins, fat, minerals & more - Halal meat
Monday, 10 February, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Dr Shamshad Begum S
Meat is one of the nutritious and favourite food items available to masses, which plays a pivotal role in fulfilling the requirements of the body. It is a good source of proteins, fat and minerals such as zinc, iron, selenium, calcium and phosphorous and vitamins like A and B complex. Ingestion of fresh, healthy and wholesome meat plays a crucial role in maintaining the nutritional and health status of individuals.

Halal is an Arabic word that means ‘permissible.’ It means food that is permissible according to Islamic law. For a meat to be certified ‘Halal,’ the Halal slaughtering partly is about having the incision deeply in order to hasten the bleeding (to eliminate any possible diseases in blood); and  death of the animal.

Scientifically it is proven that the animal did not feel any pain since the impulse of the body did not reach the brain by severing the trachea, oesophagus, carotid arteries and jugular veins. From a science perspective, sensory neurons carry impulses and most eventually reach the brain. The brain acts to interpret, sort, and process the incoming impulses and then decide on a response. The animal physical response you have seen after the incision is because the animal loses the oxygen and not because of the pain. Also, this physical response helps to hasten the blood flushing.

The slaughter of a halal animal is called “zabihah” and there are certain guidelines to follow:
  • Allah’s (God’s) name must be pronounced during slaughter.
  • The instrument must be very sharp to ensure humane slaughter. The animal must be slit at the throat.
  • The animal must not be unconscious.
  • The animal must be hung upside down and allowed to bleed dry. Eating blood is not Halal.
  • These steps must be accomplished by a Muslim. The animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products.
Halal meat tastes better, is more tender, is healthier and stays fresh longer because the absence of blood makes it resistant to bacteria. Halal is considered healthier because after slaughter, blood is drained from the animal’s arteries, ejecting most toxins because the heart continues to pump for a few seconds after slaughter.

Halal certification
The Halal certification is an authoritative, reliable, and independent testimony that a manufacturer’s product meets the Halal requirements. Any individual Muslim, Islamic organisation or agency can issue a Halal certificate, but the acceptability of the certificate depends upon the country of import or the Muslim community served through such certification. Many countries require that food products imported to their country be certified Halal by certifying organisations with prior recognition by that country’s importing authorities.

Halal certification involves an intention of the company to go Halal, inspection of the production facility, review of sanitation, review of ingredients and labels, and training the company personnel in understanding and meeting the Halal requirements.

Hence, any food product that is meant to be used in a Halal observant home should be certified. This may include drugs and food contact ingredients in packaging materials.
In addition, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and personal care products also need certification. Several food companies offer Halal processed foods and products, including  spring rolls, chicken nuggets, ravioli, lasagna, pizza, and baby food. Halal ready meals are a growing consumer market in Britain and America and are offered by an increasing number of retailers. Vegetarian cuisine is Halal if it does not contain alcohol.

Nutrients in Halal meat
As such the nutrient composition of Halal meat will remain same since ‘Halal’ is just a method of slaughtering performed in such a way that the blood is completely drained out of the animal and the meat is safe to eat as it can be free from harmful microorganisms. The US Department of Agriculture, that provides information about the nutrient content of food, does not specifically provide nutritional information about any particular type of meat, Halal or otherwise. There are no studies that prove that Halal meat has a positive effect on cholesterol levels, or any other health conditions. However, some people believe that it may be a healthier way of consuming meat since the blood drains out of the animal before it is deemed fit for consumption and this way of slaughter does not cause pain to the animal.

Nutritional composition of kinds of meat
The following table indicates the nutritional composition of different kinds of meat:
As depicted in Table 1, the percentage of meat protein varies extensively from 18.5 to 25.9g/100g in different parts of the meat. The PDCAAS (Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid scores) depicts the protein digestibility reveals that meat has high score of 0.92 as compared to the plant sources scoring 0.57 -0.71. Fat composition ranges from 0.6 to 13.3g/100g in different parts of meat. Cooking can have a significant effect on fatty acid composition and meat fat content.

Meat is a good source of minerals and perform variant functions for the growth, development and maintenance of human body. The calcium content ranged from 4 to 150mg/100g, phosphorous (150 to 380mg/100g) and highest content of iron is present in sheep liver (6.3mg/100g). Meat is a good source of B complex vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine and cyanacobalamine.

Conclusion
Meat and meat products play a significant role in the fulfillment and maintenance of human health. Hence, meat has to be included as important proportion in balanced diet. Halal meat is one of the healthy ingredients with good nutrition that can be preferred as it is having many health benefits.

(The author is assistant professor (food science and nutrition), Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bangalore. She can be contacted at shamshadbegum2@gmail.com)
 
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