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Halal Certification Requirements

A practical guide to the requirements for halal certification. This article is focused chiefly on non-protein products.

The Fundamental Requirement

Product

The most universally accepted basic principle for halal certification is everything is halal except ABCD IS haram (non-halal).

A: Alcohol (including other intoxicants)
B: Blood (poured forth)
C: Carnivorous animals (non-fish)
D: Dead Meat (meat not slaughtered per Islamic rites)

I: Immolated foods
S: Swine (porcine and its derivatives)

More practically:

  1. Non-halal certified animal derivatives
  2. Ethanol

Facility:

The fundamental principle regarding registering a facility for halal certification is:

“The integrity of the halal identity of a product should be maintained from start to finish.”

Application of the Fundamental Requirements

There are a few core aspects of commercial productions where the “fundamental requirement’ is critical:

  1. Supply Chain
  2. Production
  3. Sanitation
  4. Warehousing & Logistics
  5. Documentation
  6. Labeling

Supply Chain

The application of the fundamental principle of halal in the supply chain requires cooperation between all stakeholders in the supply chain, including raw material suppliers, logistic providers, and all other suppliers.

Again the key would be to determine if any non-halal ingredients are present in the supply chain or if raw materials have been contaminated with non-halal materials.

Companies should:

  1. Maintain the following documentation:
    1. Material purchasing documents
    2. Material receiving documents
    3. Research and development (formulation) documents
    4. Certificates of analysis (CoAs)
    5. SDS/TDS documentation
    6. Vendor onboarding document that includes a halal suitability statement
    7. Labels of incoming raw materials
    8. Any halal certifications for raw materials or other vendors, including halal certification of packaging materials, warehouses, and logistic providers.
    9. Bills of lading for raw materials
    10. Halal suitability statements
    11. Maintain other supplier certifications such as GMP, SQF, NSF, & FDA
  2. Contractually obligate suppliers to disclose any material changes to the product that may alter the halal identity of the product
  3. Identify any critical risks in the supply chain, such as a supplier with predominantly haram materials in their facility.
  4. Ensure that the purchasing department has basic training in halal concepts.
  5. Have a containment protocol in place for materials that are discovered to be contaminated
  6. Create an updated matrix of AHF-approved materials
  7. Create a matrix of haram raw materials present
  8. Seek prior authorization from AHF before adding raw materials to halal formulations

Production

Applying the fundamental requirement of halal (certification) in production is centered around ensuring that the raw materials and resulting products are not contaminated at any step of production, from staging to shipping.

Companies should:

  1. Create a production flow chart that is approved by the AHF technical team.
  2. Establish a complete production system to ensure the halal integrity of process and product and avoid contamination from haram and najis.
  3. Exclusively use raw materials/ingredients for halal production that have been approved according to the matrix of materials approved by AHF.
  4. Seek pre-authorization for any material changes to the production.
  5. Ensure production staff are oriented about the basics of halal.
  6. Ensure production is in complete accordance with the AHF-approved halal formula.
  7. Create a containment plan if halal materials/production/products become contaminated with non-halal materials/production/products.
  8. Assess the necessary Halal Critical Control Points
  9. Track any amendments to the production process
  10. Ensure the necessary pre-operation procedures are adhered to in terms of sanitation.

Sanitation

Sanitation is a crucial element of modern commercial halal production. In principle, most situations of contamination can be rectified with proper sanitation. It is important to note that sanitation requirements in the context of halal can differ from general GMP requirements.

Companies should maintain the following halal sanitation requirements:

  1. Maintain a Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP) for halal compliance.
  2. If a production line is shared between halal and haram (contaminant) products, a thorough sanitation protocol must be followed before halal production may be started.
  3. The sanitation protocol must be validated by residual testing, such as ATP testing for microbial residuals or DNA testing.
  4. Sanitation logs should be maintained for every production run.
  5. If the halal program dictates specific requirements for sanitation, all production staff must be aware of the requirements.
  6. The sanitation procedure must eliminate any residual fat, smell, color, and taste from prior production runs.
  7. AHF must approve material changes to the SSOP.
  8. Sanitation agents should be free from any haram animal-based materials. Note that non-ethanol forms of alcohol, such as isopropyl alcohol and methanol, are not considered haram in terms of sanitation.

Warehousing & Logistics

A critical component to ensuring the integrity of halal products is ensuring that the product is not contaminated during the storage and handling of halal products and materials. Contamination at this stage could render the product contaminated and thus a further risk of contamination for all the other products in the warehouse or being handled.

The general requirements to maintain halal-compliant warehousing & logistics are:

  1. The handling of materials (moving in and out) in the warehouse should be well recorded.
  2. If non-halal contaminants are present in the storage facility, clear demarcations and signage should be implemented to avoid any risk of contamination.
  3. The workflow of bringing products in and out of storage should be conducted in a manner that avoids any cross-contamination.
  4. The name of materials, code of materials, producer, name, and location of the factory must conform to those disclosed in the list of raw materials approved by AHF.
  5. If a halal certificate mentions a special logo, it must be shown on the packaging of the materials.
  6. Materials with halal certificates issued per shipment (such as gelatin) should be accompanied by documents stating the lot number, shipment weight, production date, and expiry date that corroborate with the information listed in the halal batch certificate.
  7. Temperature and humidity logs should be maintained
  8. Products should be packaged in a manner that prevents contamination by contact with exposed surfaces
  9. Trucks utilized for transportation should have a recorded sanitation procedure completed before pickup if carrying non-halal materials previously.
  10. If railroad transportation is utilized to transport halal materials, the specific containers/tanks should be documented, and the relevant sanitation documentation should be maintained.

Documentation

Proper documentation should be maintained to ensure the entire process’s transparency, traceability, and integrity.

Specifically, companies should maintain the following documentation:

  1. Updates halal certificates from suppliers
  2. Halal suitability statements from suppliers
  3. All bills of lading
  4. All raw material receiving documentation
  5. Sanitation protocol validation documents
  6. All SOPs with documentation of any changes
  7. Training documents and certifications
  8. Invoices for purchase of halal raw materials
  9. Safety data sheets
  10. Certificates of Analysis (COAs) for each lot of halal products
  11. Product labels
  12. Product laboratory testing results including DNA testing, microbiological testing, analytical chemistry testing, and nutrient analysis
  13. Legal naming information, including DBAs
  14. Production flowcharts with any documented changes
  15. Floor maps, including the traffic flows
  16. List of all equipment in the facility
  17. Internal Halal Committee: A minimum of 2 individuals are responsible for maintaining the halal program

Labeling

Labeling is an integral part of messaging the information and claims of a product. In the context of halal, the requirements aim to ensure consumer transparency to build and maintain consumer confidence. Click to review the AHF Name and Logo Policy.

The labeling requirements for halal certification are as follows:

  1. Generic halal logos should be avoided.
  2. The ingredients information section should disclose the ingredients of the products in accordance with Federal labeling guidelines.
  3. Certified companies should not utilize the halal logo in a way that misconstrues the context of the certification.
  4. Companies certified by AHF maintain the right but are not required to apply the AHF halal logo with prior authorization.
  5. Mention of non-halal ingredients in a manner that may mislead consumers is not allowed.
  6. For poultry products, if the bird has been slaughtered by hand, an indication should be provided by mention of “individually harvested by hand” or “hand slaughtered.” If the bird has been slaughtered/harvested by a machine, the verbiage “machine slaughtered” should be included.
  7. For meat and poultry products, the production date must be mentioned.
  8. For meat and poultry products, unless otherwise stated, the halal logo may only be applied to batches/lots that are accompanied with a halal certificate.`
  9. When granted to a contract manufacturer, the license for a halal logo is not extended to the private label brands that source their products from the certified manufacturer.

Halal Critical Control Points (HCCPs)

Halal critical control points are steps in the production process that are critical to eliminating the risk to the integrity of the halal identity of the product. Understanding them is instructive in terms of adhering to the halal certification standards.

There are two key elements in understanding HCCPs:

  1. Contaminant HCCPs
  2. Decision trees

Haram (Contaminant) HCCPs:

The following ingredients/items pose a critical risk to the halal integrity of a product:

  1. Intoxicants (Khamr)
    1. Anything consumable and intoxicating is considered Khamr.
    2. Drinks containing a minimum of 1% ethanol are categorized as Khamr
    3. Drinks classified as Khamr are najis (filth) and thus contaminants
    4. Drinks produced through fermentation containing less than 1% ethanol are not classified as Khamr but are haram for consumption.
  2. Ethanol
    1. The use of pure ethanol produced by the non-Khamr industry is permissible (Mubah) if it is not detected in the finished product.
    2. Prohibited if it is detected in the finished product above 5000 PPM
    3. The use of ethanol produced by Khamr industry in food production is haram.
  3. By-Products of Khamr industry
    1. Fusel oil, as a by-product of the Khamr industry, is haram and najis.
    2. Fusel oil, which is not a by-product of the Khamr industry, is not najis and halal.
    3. Components that are physically separated from fusel oil as a by-product of the Khamr industry and then chemically reacted to be a new compound are halal.
    4. Vinegar is halal when no additional alcohol is added after the completion of the manufacturing process.
  4. Flavor Imitating Haram Product
    1. Flavor using the name and having the sensory profile of a haram product, like rum flavor, pork flavor, etc., could not be halal certified, although ingredients used may be technically halal.
  5. Microbial Product
    1. Microbes that grow on halal growth media are halal, and those that grow on haram growth media are haram.
    2. Microbial consumer products that use haram and najis materials on their growth media in any production steps (refreshing scale, pilot plant scale, and production stage) are haram.
    3. Products containing microbial products that grow on non-halal media are haram.
    4. Products containing microbial products must be traced back to the initial growth media of the microbes.
  6. Several Examples of Critical Materials
    1. The meat of halal animals is haram if the animal is not slaughtered according to Islamic law. Critical points in the slaughtering process are as follows:
      1. The individual making the initial incision must be Muslim (male/female.
      2. The stunning process should not cause the death of the animal before slaughter.
      3. The knife must be sharp.
      4. The slaughtering must be carried out from the front of the neck, cutting the throat (esophagus), windpipe (trachea), and the two jugular veins in the neck without cutting the spinal cord.
      5. Name of Allah and His Greatness – Bismillah, Allah u Akbar, must be invoked by the slaughter man before slaughtering.
      6. The animal should be thoroughly bled.
    2. The following documents or conditions should support imported meat:
      1. Halal certificate from a halal certifying agency approved by AHF.
      2. Shipment and other supporting documents such as shipping documents, health documents, etc.
      3. The halal certificate should conform to other documents. 
      4. The documents should conform to physical conditions, such as packaging and labeling.
      5. Documents must have the correct lot number, plant number, date of slaughtering, etc.
  7. Animal  Derivatives
    1. According to Islamic law, animal derivatives are halal when derived from halal animals slaughtered. It should not be derived from blood or contaminated by haram (prohibited) and najis (filthy) materials. Following is a partial listing of animal derivatives or materials:
      1. Fat
      2. Protein
      3. Gelatin
      4. Collagen
      5. Di / Tri Calcium Phosphate
      6. Fatty Acid and its derivatives (E 430 – E 436)
      7. Salts or Esters of Fatty Acid (E 470 – E 495)
      8. Glycerol / Glycerin (E 422)
      9. Amino Acids (Ex: Cysteine, Phenylalanine, etc.)
      10. Edible bone phosphates (E 521)
      11. Blood Plasma
      12. Globulin concentrate
      13. Fibrinogen
      14. Microbe growth media (Ex: blood agar)
      15. Hormone (Ex: Insulin, growth hormones)
      16. Enzymes from pig/cow pancreas (amylase, lipase, pepsin, trypsin, etc.)
      17. Taurine
      18. Placenta
      19. Milk products and their derivatives and by-products when  processed by enzymes (Ex: cheese, whey, lactose, casein/caseinate, etc.)
      20. Several Vitamins (Ex: Vitamin A, B6, D, E, etc.)
      21. Activated carbon
      22. Bristle
    2. Honey is an animal derivative that is halal.
    3. Milk, when sourced from halal animals, is halal.
    4. Fish and its derivatives are halal.
  8. Vegetable Products
    1. Materials derived from vegetables meet halal certification requirements, but if they are processed with additives or processing aids, or other ingredients that are not halal, they become non-halal. Therefore, it is necessary to know the production process, the additives, and the processing aid materials used in the production of vegetable products. Following are examples of vegetable materials that might have critical points:
      1. Wheat flour could be enriched with vitamins B1, B2, and Folic acid.
      2. Oleoresin (Chili, spices, etc.) may contain emulsifiers (Ex, Polysorbate/ tween & monooleate glycerol that might be derived from animals.
      3. Soybean lecithin could be pmprove its function.
      4. Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) could be produced using enzymes in the hydrolysis process.
  9. By-Products of the Alcoholic Industry and its Derivatives
    1. By-products of the alcoholic drink industry and their derivatives are haram if they are only physically separated from the product. But if they are chemically reacted to be a new compound, they are considered halal. Examples of the by-products of the alcoholic drink industry and their derivatives are:
      1. Cognac oil  (a by-product of Cognac/Brandy distillation)
      2. Fusel oil (By-product of distilled beverages and their derivatives, such as isoamyl, isobutyl, propyl alcohol, acetaldehyde, 2.3 butanediols, acetone, diacetyl, etc.)
      3. Brewer yeast (a by-product of the beer industry)
      4. Tartaric acid (a by-product of the wine industry)
  10. Microbial Products
    1. Microbial products intrinsically are considered acceptable for halal certification.
    2. The status of microbial products could be haram if it belongs to the following categories:
      1. Microbial products grown on media containing haram materials such as blood and peptone from haram sources or produced by utilizing an enzyme from haram sources.
      2. Microbial products using enzymes of haram materials in their production process.
      3. Microbial products using haram additives or processing aid in their production process, such as antifoams derived from lard, glycerol, or other similar substances.
      4. Microbial recombinant genes derived from haram materials. Examples are as follows:
      5. Alpha-amylase enzymes and protease resulting from Saccharomyces cerevisiae recombinants with genes from animal tissues.
      6. Insulin hormones resulting from E.coli recombinants and genes from pig pancreas tissues.
      7. Human growth hormones resulting from E.coli recombinants.
  11. Other Critical Ingredients:
    1. The following are examples of other additives that often become critical points:
      1. Aspartame (made from the amino acid Phenylalanine and Aspartic acid)
      2. Natural colorings
      3. Flavors
      4. Seasonings
      5. Vitamin coating
      6. Emulsifiers and Stabilizers
      7. Antifoams 
  12. Packaging: 
    1. The company must identify the material composition of the packaging
    2. The company must determine if there is any leaching of packaging material into the product 
    3. Packaging suppliers should complete the halal suitability statement
    4. Packaging materials but be free from non-halal animal derivates
    5. The sizes of the packaging should corroborate with the data listed on the halal certificate

HCCP Decision Trees

When encountering practical situations, it helps to have a visual to guide your course of action. Below is a list of decision trees to guide your course of action when encountering Halal Critical Control Points.

Identification of Critical Control Points in Plant Products


Identification of Critical Control Points in Animal Derived Products

Identification of Critical Points of Warehousing and Production Lines

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