CAIRO – A European Union’s decision to reapprove the use of reconstituted animal and pork protein in fish feed is alarming Muslim minorities across Europe, who turn their eyes to religious organizations for a fatwa on the issue.
“Muslim immigrants face a major dilemma,” Emad Sharqawi, an Egyptian restaurant owner in Brussels, told Al-Masry Al-Youm.“Large numbers eat fish to avoid eating unknown meat and avoid any suspicion of eating pork in restaurants or products in the markets.”
Last month, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) reapproved the use of reconstituted animal protein in fish feed from June 2013.
But the decision, which comes in the throes of a horsemeat scandal in Europe, has raised alarm among Muslim communities in the continent.
Muslims do not eat pork and consider pigs and their meat filthy and unhealthy to eat.
The use of processed animal proteins (PAPs) in farm feed was banned by the EU executives in 1997 for cattle, and in 2001 for all animals, after they were linked to the spread of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or mad cow disease.
According to the Commission, the feed could “improve the long term durability of the fisheries sector”.
“These PAPs could be a precious substitute for fish flours, which are a rare resource,” it added.
The Commission says that their reintroduction does not pose a health risk, as long as it does not involve cannibalism.
“It complies with the latest scientific opinions which say that risk of transmission of BSE between non-ruminant animals is negligible, provided there is no recycling between species.”
FatwaMuslim minorities are now awaiting fatwas from main religious organizations on how to deal with the situation.
“It is very crucial [to have a decision] and we trust Islamic organizations in Egypt [will rule] on the matter,” said Gharib Radwan, an Egyptian driver living in Brussels.
“As Egyptians, we expect a fatwa from Al-Azhar, particularly since Al-Azhar has a prominent position in the Islamic world," he added.
"There is confidence in the fatwas issued by the institution not only by Egyptians, but in communities in other Muslim countries."
In Islam, all fish are halal, or permissible, by nature.
European countries have been marred by a horsemeat scandal over the past weeks.
Since the first horsemeat was discovered in frozen meals and burgers in Britain and Ireland last month, traces have been found in meat products across Europe.
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has withdrawn meatballs from sale in 14 European countries after tests in the Czech Republic found traces of horsemeat in a batch made in Sweden.
Swiss food giant Nestle also said it had found horse DNA in meat from the Spanish supplier, Servocar.The discovery comes as European agriculture ministers meet for talks expected to focus on the growing horsemeat scandal.
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