Problems of authenticity confronting the country’s halal goat industry should be addressed promptly to avoid huge business opportunity losses and ensure participation to international Halal trade.

goat meat photo

Photo by Adeel Anwer

Sultan Kudarat State University (SKSU) and University of Southern Mindanao (USM) researchers, in a study, observed that Muslim farmers raised goats, which are classified as halal, but are only acceptable to local consumers in the area.

The researchers attribute the problem to the absence of halal goat production and haram detection protocols in the region and farmers’ limited knowledge on proper production and post-production practices.

As a result, goats tagged as halal in most markets in Region 12 are contaminated with haram substances, including pork derivative.

Experts explained that halal system, as it applies to food, incorporates the concept of ‘farm to plate,’ and covers the entire halal food quality assurance. This is to promote hygiene and good health as prescribed by Allah and Prophet Muhammad, based on Islamic belief.

To address the issue on halalness in goat production, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), through its National Goat S&T Program, implemented a project on the establishment of standard protocols on halal goat production and quality assurance system in 2013-2015.

From the program, SKSU researchers developed a set of protocols on raising halal goat, while researchers from the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) developed protocols to detect haram or unlawful elements. These protocols were validated and proved functional.

The protocols have incorporated essential elements of the science of halal goat production vis-a-vis religious foundations of cleanliness, hygiene, good health, and good intentions. It underscores basic concerns such as the need for a strategic grazing and housing system, health management, and Shariah-compliant slaughtering procedures.

Strategic grazing requires employing a Muslim shepherd who ensures that goats are herded in clean pastures at least for two hours per day during sunny days and housed during inclement weather. Clean pastures prohibit the use of manure of unlawful animals as soil ameliorants in the forage garden. It permits, however, the application of organic compost from goat manure.

The halal goat house is similar to the regular goat house. It is elevated to promote good air circulation and located in a slightly sloping terrain to ensure that water drains out to canals and does not stagnate underneath. Halal goat house located in waterlogged area is considered as filthy and haram. Walls, ceilings, floorings, feeding and watering troughs must also be cleaned regularly. Manure under the pens must be removed before it piles up, as fresh manure is haram, hence, it must undergo decomposition before use.

To ensure that the goat house will be free from haram elements, considerable distance should be observed from haram facilities such as piggery farms, canals, toilets, and factories. The goat house must also have adequate floor space of 1-1.5 m2 per animal to conform to ethical Zahiba principle of not confining animals in tight spaces.

Health management is one of the important aspects in raising halal goat. Goats may be given antibiotics but must be cleansed for at least 7 days before subjecting to Shaira-compliant slaughtering.

At the onset and during the peak of rainy season, deworming is a must. The use of dewormers is allowed provided that their ingredients are from halal sources and that a withdrawal period or cleansing of at least 7 days is strictly followed before slaughter.

Tree leaves that can deworm can be given as it will not require further cleansing. These include ipil-ipil (Leucaena leucocephala), madre de cacao (Gliricidia sepium (Jacg.) Steud), caimito (Chrysophyllum cainito L), and pagatpat (Canarium luzonicum), among others.

If the goat is to be sacrificed during Islamic rites or during Qurban, it must be kept intact, hence dehorning and castration are not allowed.

Growth and reproductive hormones must not be used in raising halal goats. Artificial insemination (AI) is acceptable provided the doe must have experienced natural mating at least once in her reproductive life.

The project on the establishment of standard protocols on halal goat production and quality assurance system integrates halal elements in a quality assurance program.

Halal post-production processes embody science along with cleanliness, purification, animal welfare and oneness with Allah. The general flow of Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) is divided into pre-operational and operational.

The pre-operational procedures consist of the following: 1) cleaning and rinsing with warm water and soaping of all contact surfaces of the facility, equipment, and utensils for three times; 2) ensuring that slaughterers are free from disease; 3) abstaining from sex (for the slaughterers) the day before the slaughter; and 4) taking a bath prior to slaughtering and wearing of proper protective clothing, gloves, and rubber boots.

Seven steps are included in the improved halal slaughtering procedures. These are 1) weighing of animal; 2) praying over by a male practicing Muslim; 3) cutting the veins and arteries in the neck using a sharp knife with a single stroke (the person performing the slaughtering must see to it that other animals are not within view); 4) hooking and hanging by the legs; 5) Removing of the skin without water; 5) cutting of the limbs and head; 6) removing of internal organs; and 7) storing and chilling.

The application of these protocols minimizes contamination and limits the colony forming unit per gram up to 106, which is the acceptable level of microorganisms for fresh meat.

The authentic halal goat production infuses science and requires a thorough understanding of Islam requirements. However, there is still a need to harmonize local and international policies to successfully participate in the halal trade.

If this issue is addressed, authentic halal goats and chevon-based products can be seen in the market of Mindanao and eventually, the Philippine halal goat industry will have a stake in the international market.

Goat enterprise management, among other programs, is one of the Council’s initiatives to improve the state of R&D in the agriculture, aquatic and natural resources sectors. This is in keeping with its commitment under DOST’s Outcome One: to provide science-based know-how and tools that will enable the agricultural sector to raise productivity to world-class standards.

PCAARRD’s commitment to Outcome One will be showcased by the Council in its participation to the National Science and Technology Week (NSTW) on July 24-28 at SMX Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

The 2015 NSTW adopts the theme Philippines: A Science Nation Innovating for Global competitiveness.

PCAARRD, on the other hand, adopts the theme Strategic Industry S&T Program for Agri-Aqua Growth (SIPAG) ni Juan to bolster PCAARRD’s commitment to Outcome One which the Council pursues, through its Industry Strategic S&T Plans, among other programs, hence the tagline SIPAG ni Juan.