Formulators need to be aware of the source of many common food ingredients, such as flavorings, colorings and proteins, if they are to be used for halal packaged foods.
There are many opportunities to tap a global halal food market of 1.57 billion people. The halal logo is an authoritative, independent and reliable testimony to support halal food claims. The halal certification enhances the marketability of products in Muslim countries/markets and requires a small cost investment, relative to multiple growths in revenues.
Over the past 30 years, many halal markets, ethnic stores and restaurants have sprung up, mainly in major metropolitan areas. In the past, Muslim businessmen slaughtered their own animals, and the concept of halal certification was foreign to them. However, in the late 1990s, small to mid-size companies recognized the vacuum and need to capture this niche.
Foods and beverages bearing halal certification are readily accepted by Muslim consumers, as well as customers from other religions, provided it is from a reputable certification organization.
Fundamentals of Halal Foods
Food processors should be aware of the following common food ingredients and their sources: food additives; amino acids; animal fat and protein; colors; dressings, sauces and seasonings; emulsifiers; enzymes; fats and oils; fat-based coatings, grease and release agents; flavors and flavorings; gelatin; glycerin; hydrolyzed protein; meat and its by-products; packaging materials; stabilizers; thickening agents; vitamins; and whey protein. When processing halal products, it is necessary to eliminate all contamination with non-halal ingredients.
What is a Halal Certificate?
“Method of slaughter for all meat sources, excluding fish and other sea-life, per Islamic law; This method of slaughtering animals consists of using a well-sharpened knife to make a swift, deep incision that cuts the front of the throat, the carotid artery, windpipe, and jugular veins. The head of an animal that is slaughtered using halal methods is aligned with the Qiblah. In addition to the direction, permitted animals should be slaughtered upon utterance of the Islamic prayer 'Bismillah' "in the name of God."
Generally, killing animals in Islam is only permissible for two main reasons:
- To be eaten
- To eliminate their danger
Types of Halal Certificates and Duration
The second type of halal certificate is for a specific product or a specific quantity. This certificate signifies the listed product or products meet the halal guidelines formulated by the certifying organization. Such a certificate may be issued for a specified quantity of the product destined for a particular distributor/importer. If the certificate is for a specific quantity, it may be called a batch certificate or a shipment certificate. Meat and poultry products, where each batch or consignment has to be certified, generally receive a batch or shipment certificate.
The duration for which a certificate is valid depends upon the type of product. A batch certificate issued for each consignment is valid for as long as that specific batch or lot of the product is in the market--generally, up to product expiration date or “use by” date. In a separate case, if a certified product is made according to a fixed formula, a certificate may be issued for a one-, two- or three-year period. The product remains halal-certified, as long as it meets all the established and agreed-upon production and marketing requirements between the company and the halal-certifying organization.
Who is authorized to Issue Halal Certificates?
It is important food manufacturers be aware of not only the halal requirements for different countries and the principles of halal, but, also, understand the organizations which meet their needs the best. They should choose a certifying body that can service their global needs, as well as one that is acceptable to both the countries of import and the local Muslim community.
Which Products Can Be Certified?
- Meat and poultry fresh, frozen and processed products.
- Meat and poultry ingredients.
- Dairy products and ingredients.
- Prepared foods and meals.
- All other packaged food products.
- Cosmetics and personal care products.
- Nutritional and dietary supplements.
- Packaging materials.
Halal Certification Process
The process starts with filling out an application explaining the production process; the products to be certified; and regions in which the products will be sold/marketed, along with specific information about the component ingredients. Most organizations review the information and set up an audit of the facility. At this time, it would be advisable to negotiate the fees and have a clear understanding of the costs involved; in some cases, the cost may run into thousands of U.S. dollars per year.
During review of the ingredient information and/or the facility audit, the organization may ask manufacturers to replace any ingredients that do not meet its guidelines. Generally, the company and the halal-certifying agency sign a multi-year supervision agreement. Then, a halal certificate may be issued for one year or for a shipment of a product. Overall, the process for halal certification of the food products is not complicated.
Use of Halal Markings
Steps Involved in Halal Certification
- Filling out an application to the organization on paper or Internet. Review of the information by the organization, especially the type of the product and its components.
- Inspection and approval of the manufacturing facility. It includes review of the production equipment and physical ingredients, as well as cleaning procedures, sanitation and chance of cross-contamination.
- For a company, it includes the proper feeding and humane treatment of animals throughout raising, transporting and holding prior to slaughter.
- For slaughterhouses, it involves hiring trained Muslim slaughtermen and review of slaughtering areas, including restraining, method of stunning, actual slaying, pre- and post-slaying, handling, etc.
- Determining the cost and fees involved and signing of the contract.
- Payment of fees and expenses.
- Issuance of the halal certificate.