How do you discern authenticity in a sea of hundreds of logos embellishing food and beverage products?
AHF receives inquiries from consumers and companies when they see the Arabic letterings “حلال” or in English “Halal” whether or not the product is halal. Consumers sometimes think this product is genuinely halal and possibly certified. Unfortunately, this is not the case. There are many critical issues with generic halal logos and the underlying self-certification, which is unacceptable according to international halal standards. This AHF Insight serves as a guide in explaining the issues with generic halal symbols and logos as well as self certification.
Consumers should look for the AHF halal logo on halal products:
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Please visit the AHF Name and Logo Page to learn more about the AHF logo.
Examples of Generic Halal Logos:
The fundamental issue with generic halal logos is that they are a form of self-certification by a manufacturer or brand. Intrinsically, this presents a significant conflict of interest where it is in the self-interest of the company to claim halal and gain the subsequent increase in market value without any third-party oversight or due diligence into the ingredients of the manufactured product or production process. This is made possible in western countries due to laws that dictate a “separation of church and state,” hence paving the way for lack of oversight on the part of regulators in halal matters.
One area where state and federal regulators do exercise influence in halal matters is in the creation and enforcement of labeling laws that include halal as a claim. For example, AHF advocated for passing the “Halal Food Act” in Illinois.
The act states:
“It is a Class B misdemeanor for any person to make any oral or written statement that directly or indirectly tends to deceive or otherwise lead a reasonable individual to believe that a non-halal food or food product is halal.”
The USDA-FSIS technically enforces halal labeling under “truth in labeling” statutes that require companies to abide by federal regulations surrounding claims made on labels.
This creates a conundrum as state and federal authorities technically do not regulate halal on a per-establishment basis but on a labeling standards basis. Without third-party halal certification, supervision, and audits, there is no bonafide method to determine if an establishment is in violation of such laws.
Practical Scenarios where Self-Certification Fails & Solutions
Retail Packaged Products
Generally, if a retail package product has a generic halal logo, the company will make a claim on the basis of a given critical ingredient, such as protein. For example, if the product is a chicken nugget, as long as the company believes the supplier is halal, they will apply the halal logo. The critical issue with this situation is the lack of oversight of the supply chain and the absence of third-party verification of vendor compliance. There is also a possibility of cross-contamination with other products in the production facility. Additionally, the lack of evaluation of the remaining ingredients, such as breadings which may contain haram ingredients like enzymes, poses a critical risk.
An AHF Halal Product Certificate solves the above issues and provides consumers peace of mind about the supply chain, production methods, and ingredient compliance.
Meat Processing Establishments
Meat processing establishments that self-claim to be halal certified can mix halal meats with non-halal meats without any independent oversight, which poses a critical risk for halal consumers. Additionally, the lack of third-party oversight on vendors creates obscurity in the supply chain regarding whether an establishment is genuinely purchasing from the vendors it claims to be purchasing from. Last but not least, the risk of contamination is prevalent in modern commercial processing facilities.
An AHF Halal Production Facility Registration solves the above issues by ensuring that the facility and its programs and processes are in accordance with international halal standards.
Private Label Brands
Generic halal logos on private label products can be confusing for consumers since they often are unable to discern if the product is white-labeled or not. The halal certification of the manufacturer does not always carry over to the private label brand since the private label brand may be able to switch manufacturers, change formulations, or conduct additional processing without notifying the halal certifier of the original manufacturer.
An AHF private label Halal Product Certificate solves this issue by ensuring that the product is in accordance with international halal standards from start to finish. The labels are registered with AHF, and any changes are documented accordingly.
Consumers should exercise caution when evaluating generic halal logos. There have been several reports of fraudulent activity by companies that utilize generic halal logos stemming from a lack of independent oversight. AHF has received reports of many fraudulent behaviors by establishments using generic halal logos and symbols on their marketing materials.
When evaluating a product for consumption, it is imperative to verify the halal logo is from an internationally accredited halal certification body and is backed by a valid halal certification.
For companies contemplating whether or not to apply a generic halal logo or verbiage on their marketing materials, AHF strongly recommends not doing so. It is better to apply no halal logo than to apply a generic one, as consumers will be wary of trusting products embellished with a generic logo or verbiage.
Also, when evaluating suppliers, companies should avoid companies that use a generic halal logo or general halal verbiage without a halal certificate. This creates a risk to the company accepting the supplier as the supplied product/ingredient/raw material may or may not actually be halal and thus jeopardize the halal compliance status of the company’s products and claims.
How to obtain an authentic halal logo?
Companies seeking to market their products to halal markets may obtain rights to the AHF logo by obtaining AHF halal certification. AHF halal certification provides independent oversight on the supply chain, products, and their production process, which ensures that the product is suitable for consumption for 1.9 billion halal consumers globally.
If you are interested in halal certification, please get in touch with us!