Introduction

Although Halal certification is one of the most rapidly growing certifications in the world, many North American-based food and beverage industry professionals may have yet to interact with the certification process. They may need clarification about the certification process. We receive many questions like “Is it similar to Kosher certification?” “Does it require supervised sanitation?”, “How many audits are required?” and “How long does the certification process take?”

This AHF Insight will delve into the details of the certification process, expected timelines, and frequently asked questions.

There are three major steps in the halal certification process:

  1. Application Phase
  2. Auditing Phase
  3. Certification

Read more below to learn about the certification process.

Application Phase

The objective of the application phase is to determine the suitability of the company and its products for halal certification. This can preliminarily be done by completing an application here: Apply for Halal Certification. The online application takes approximately 4-7 minutes to complete.

Once received, a member of the AHF team will review the application to determine if the company and its products are suitable for certification. Fundamentally, at this preliminary, the reviewer is seeking to determine whether or not there is alcohol or non-halal animal derivatives in the product.

Once preliminarily qualified, a halal agreement is prepared. The agreement contains details about the halal program, confidentiality agreements, cost structure, and terms.

Once a signed agreement is in place, a certification specialist will guide you to the next phase, the auditing phase.

Auditing Phase

The auditing phase is where the core complete halal program is established. This can be broken up into two parts:

  1. Documentation Audit
  2. Facility Audit

The auditing phase makes up the bulk of the certification process and can take 1-3 weeks, depending on the complexity of the products and the number of facilities.

Documentation Audit

The key objectives of the documentation are to:

  1. Assess in detail the compliance of the products and every single one of their ingredients with international halal standards.
  2. Assess the facility’s ability to produce halal products while maintaining the integrity of the product’s halal identity.
  3. Create an internal halal committee responsible for overseeing the halal program.

By achieving the above objectives through documentation, the amalgamation of the set of information, processes, protocols, and documentation becomes the core of the halal program.

Examples of documentation and information that are gathered are:

  1. Specification sheets for raw materials
  2. Sanitation SOPs
  3. Flow Charts
  4. Contaminant identification
  5. Validated sanitation results (where applicable)
  6. Halal certificates of vendors (where applicable)
  7. Internal Halal Commitee formation document
  8. Cross-contamination prevention plans

Facility Audit

The key objectives of the facility audit are:

  1. Train staff on halal
  2. Verification of application
  3. Identification of any Halal Critical Control Points

The facility audit lasts generally lasts between 3-5 hours.

It consists of the following:

  1. The auditor will train members of the internal halal committee on the principles of halal and how to run a halal program successfully.
  2. The auditor conducts a facility tour identifying unmitigated risk factors and discussing the Halal Critical Control Points.
  3. The auditor will then discuss any concerns at the closeout meeting and share the key findings.
  4. The auditor will notify the AHF certification committee if there are non-critical non-conformances.

Certification

This will generally occur within 48 hours of the successful completion and notification of the audit to the certification committee.

Generally, companies will receive the following certification documents:

  1. Halal Production Facility Registration: This certifies that the facility has the ability to produce halal products in accordance with international halal standards.
  2. Halal Product Certificate: This certificate includes specific halal-certified products.

The license to use the logo is granted. The company may add products to its certification program at any time. The certificate is usually valid for one, two, or three years.

FAQ

Q: From start to finish, how long does it take to complete the certification?
A: Generally, the process is completed within 2-4 weeks.

Q: How many audits are required?
A: Depending on the risk factors, an audit can be required either annually or bi-annually.

Q: What happens if the company fails the audit?
A: AHF will furnish any non-conformances and give the company time to correct the non-conformities

Q: Does AHF require the blessing of equipment or production lines?
A: No, AHF does not require equipment to be blessed.

Q: What are the halal certification requirements?
A: For a complete list of requirements, please read: Halal Certification Requirements – AHF

Q: Can a product be certified without the facility?
A: It is required that the facility receive halal approval/registration to produce a halal product.