Page last updated at 17:57 GMT, Monday, 8 May 2006 18:57 UK

Halal menu 'should appeal to all'

Under Islamic law, animals must be bled to death

Delegates to the first World Halal Forum have been urged to establish global standards for foods and other services that meet Islamic regulations.

Malaysia's prime minister told the meeting in Kuala Lumpur that halal should become a badge of quality.

Major corporations have sent delegates to the conference, which hopes to boost the development of all halal products.

The term halal most commonly refers to meat killed and prepared in line with Islamic dietary laws.

The term can also be used to judge the fairness of business dealings or other types of transaction or activity.

'Universal values'

Addressing delegates in the Malaysian capital, Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said halal products and services were an opportunity for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

"Halal also represents just and fair business transactions as well as caring for animals and the environment," he said.

Palestinian butcher
Much of the world's halal food is prepared by individual butchers
"Halal embodies social justice and welfare as well as protection of the poor and the weak.

"Halal therefore represents values that are held in high regard by all peoples, cultures and religions."

Organisers of the three-day forum hope to focus more on commercial realities than on religious definitions, to help focus an expanding but currently largely unregulated sector.

"There are a lot of issues emerging as halal goes global. The farm-to-fork nature of halal requires a forum where all of the different elements can get together, where issues can be resolved," said organiser Abdal Hamid Evans.

Mr Abdullah has said the global halal market could be worth as much as $500bn (270bn) per year, and hopes to turn Malaysia into a "halal hub", developing areas such as logistics and supply chain mechanisms currently dominated by Western firms.

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