Home Articles Halal Certification Requirements for Food 

Halal Certification Requirements for Food 

Explore key Halal certification requirements for food, from permissible items and practices to the certification process, ensuring Halal compliance

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For Muslim consumers, going around the food aisle with the question, “Is this Halal?” is a constant consideration.

In the context of food, Halal refers to the consumption requirements prescribed in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, which includes not only the types of food that are permissible but also the methods of preparation and handling.

This guide thoroughly explores the halal certification requirements for food, ranging from fundamental principles to the steps of halal certification process itself.

Key principles of Halal food

The core principle of halal food requirements is simple– all foods are deemed permissible unless they contain:

  • Alcohol and other intoxicants
  • Blood
  • Carnivorous animals (excluding fish)
  • Dead meat (animals not slaughtered according to Islamic rites)
  • Immolated foods
  • Swine, including its derivatives

This guideline also extends to non-Halal certified animal derivatives and ethanol, emphasizing the necessity for halal certification even in ingredient selection and product development.

Detailed Halal Food Requirements

Halal certification is a process which ensures that products meet the strict Islamic dietary guidelines. The criteria for halal certified food can be divided into 3 categories– items you can consume, prohibited items, and handling guidelines.

Criteria A) Items You Can Consume

Halal certification criteria encompass a wide range of requirements, including:

  • Naturally Lawful Food: Any food that doesn’t fall under the explicit prohibitions in the Quran or the Hadith is considered Halal. This includes fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, fish, and others, prepared without mixing any non-halal ingredients in them.
  • Animal Welfare: Animals intended for Halal food must be treated well throughout their lives, have enough space to roam, and access to clean water and food.
  • Slaughtering Practices: The slaughter (zabiha) must be performed by a sane adult Muslim. The animal must be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter, and the name of Allah must be invoked upon each slaughter.
  • No Contact with Non-Halal Food: The food should not have any contact with anything declared non-Halal. It must be prepared, processed, or manufactured using equipment that is separate from those that are used to prepare, process, or manufacture non-Halal food.

Read More: What is Dhabiha (Zabiha) in Islam and How is it Related to Halal?

Criteria B) Prohibited Items and Practices

Certain practices and ingredients are strictly forbidden in halal food production, which are:

  • Adding Haram Substances: This includes any addition of pork, blood derivatives, or alcohol.
  • Cross-Contamination: Measures to prevent contact between Halal and non-Halal ingredients throughout the production process are essential.
  • Stunning Animals to the Point of Death: Stunning is permissible as long as the animal remains alive at the time of slaughter.
  • Using Non-Halal Derived Additives: Enzymes, emulsifiers, and other food additives must be derived from Halal sources or have acceptable alternatives.

Criteria C) Handling and Storage Guidelines

When it comes to handling and storing Halal food products, adhering to proper guidelines is essential to maintain their Halal status throughout the supply chain. Here are 4 key handling and storage guidelines for Halal food products:

Guideline #1- Dedicated Spaces

  • Ensure dedicated storage facilities for Halal foods to prevent cross-contamination with non-Halal or Haram items.
  • Separation must apply to all levels of food handling and storage, including refrigerators, freezers, and display units.

Guideline #2- Cleanliness and Hygiene

  • All utensils, cutting boards, and equipment used in the preparation, packaging, or serving of Halal food must be cleansed according to Islamic law.
  • Regular cleaning schedules must be maintained to ensure the facility’s cleanliness. Use cleaning agents that are compliant with Halal standards.

Guideline #3- Avoiding Cross-Contamination

  • During transportation, Halal products must be kept separate from non-Halal items to avoid cross-contamination. This includes using separate containers or clearly marking Halal products and providing physical barriers when necessary.
  • Employees handling Halal products should be trained on the importance of avoiding cross-contamination. This includes washing hands and changing gloves before handling Halal items if they have previously handled non-Halal items.

Guideline #4- Documentation & Auditing

  • Maintain detailed records of product sourcing, storage conditions, and handling procedures for all Halal items. Documentation should include certification details, product handling guidelines, and employee training records.
  • Conduct regular internal audits of storage and handling procedures to ensure ongoing compliance with Halal standards.

Halal Certification Process

Here are the main steps involved in obtaining Halal certification for your product or establishment through the American Halal Foundation (AHF):

Step 1- Application Submission

Reach out to AHF and then fill out an application form provided. This form requires detailed information about the company, including types of products, manufacturing processes, ingredients, and sourcing.

Step 2- Inspection:

During this step, a comprehensive inspection of the manufacturing facility process is conducted to ensure compliance with Halal standards. AHF’s halal certification experts will review all your submitted documents to ensure your key food production components are permissible under Islamic law.

Step 3- Site Audit:

After the preliminary assessment, AHF then schedules an on-site audit. During the audit, AHF representatives inspect the production facility, focusing on raw materials, production procedures, cleaning protocols, product handling, and storage practices.

In this stage, HCCPs are also identified, which are pivotal in mitigating risks to Halal integrity. These include the use of any Haram ingredients, such as intoxicants or animal derivatives not compliant with Islamic law.

Step 4- Halal Training

AHF’s Account Executive will then provide employees involved in the handling, processing, and storing of Halal products with comprehensive training on Halal compliance, highlighting the importance of maintaining separation, preventing contamination, and adhering to cleanliness standards.

The halal training will also cover cultural sensitivity to highlight the significance of Halal food to those who consume it as building awareness can promote respect for the halal processes and enhance compliance from employees.

Step 5- Issue of Certificate:

If compliance with all necessary Halal standards is confirmed, the AHF issues a Halal certificate for the products or facility. This certificate typically includes the halal food requirements scope, issuance date, and expiration.

To maintain certification, the AHF conducts regular audits of the facility to ensure ongoing compliance with Halal standards.

Misconceptions About Halal Certification

Here are 3 common misconceptions regarding halal certification requirements for food:

Misconception #1- Halal Certification is Only for Muslims

Truth: While halal certification requirements ensure food products meet Islamic consumption guidelines, the certification also signifies the adherence to high ethical and quality standards, which also makes it appealing to non-Muslim consumers who value ethical food production practices.

Read More: How Halal and Ethical Consumerism Go Hand-in-Hand

Misconception #2- Halal Certification is Complicated and Inaccessible

Truth: Some believe that obtaining Halal certification is an overly complicated and inaccessible process for food producers. In reality, certification bodies work closely with producers to guide them through the process, ensuring that Halal practices are seamlessly integrated into their existing operations.

Read More: Halal Certification Process in 3-Steps

Misconception #3- Halal Certification Imposes Islamic Principles on Non-Muslims

Truth: The process of Halal certification for food does not enforce Islamic beliefs or practices on non-Muslim businesses or consumers. It simply provides assurance for consumers seeking products that comply with Islamic dietary laws. Businesses that obtain Halal certification do so voluntarily to widen their market reach.

Read More: What Does Halal Mean for the Modern Muslim Consumer?

Understanding Halal Food Requirements is Crucial

Halal certification is an important aspect of food production for the Muslim population as it provides a clear guideline for permissible food consumption to over 2 billion Muslims.

As the Muslim population grows globally, understanding the halal food requirements and processes involved in getting halal-certified have become crucially relevant for food producers.

Interested in learning more about halal certification requirements and getting halal certified? Contact us at AHF now to get expert insights and assistance.

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Connect with a halal certification expert.

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