What is Halal Food?
Halal (also spelled halaal) is an Arabic word that means “lawful or permitted.” It is a term that is used in the Islamic religion in contrast with the word haram (which means “unlawful or not allowed”). These terms indicate which life practices are allowed or not allowed for those who practice Islam (Muslims). While halal refers to much more than just Islamic dietary practices, the term is most often thought of when talking about food, drinks, and other products.
Halal Meat and Poultry
Halal meat and poultry are products from acceptable sources where the animal slaughtered was dispatched by a sharp knife slicing the jugular vein and carotid artery while invoking the name of God (Allah). The killing of animals for food is considered a sacred act and must be completed with halal processes.
Carnivorous animals with fangs, such as cats, wolves, lions, dogs, etc., cannot be considered halal, and pork is also forbidden. A chicken, for example, is an herbivore, but any bird with large talons indicates that it is a carnivore (such as an eagle) and would not be an acceptable source.
There are several other details involved in the slaughter. A few of these include:
- The cut must be carried out in a single motion.
- Severing the spinal cord is forbidden.
- Animals must be well treated prior to slaughter.
Other Halal Food Products
In general, a product is considered halal if it is free of any substance or ingredient that was taken from a haram source. It must also be manufactured or stored by utensils, equipment, and machinery that have been cleansed according to Islamic law. Finally, it must never have been in contact with, touched, or near to a haram substance during its product life cycle (from production to storage).
These food products can be considered halal when meeting the above criteria:
- Fish and seafood
- Bread products
- Pastry items (frostings and coatings)
- Desserts (cakes and pastries)
- Cereals (breakfast, natural, and organic)
- Dairy products (whipped toppings and drink mixes)
- Milk (from species considered halal)
- Cheese, cheese products, and coatings
- Ice cream and ice cream toppings
- Eggs (powdered, frozen, and processed)
- Coffee mixes
- Tea blends
- Fruits (fresh and or dried)
- Syrups (table and flavored)
- Jams and jellies
- Legumes and nuts
- Peanut butter
- Pizzas (halal meats and veggies only)
- Plants (which are non-intoxicating)
- Vegetables (fresh and frozen)
- French fries and processed potatoes
- Sauces and dressings
- Soup and soup base
All halal foods should be certified even if they appear in this list to ensure that any animal byproducts within were halal slaughtered.
Other Non-Food Halal Products
Other products that can be certified halal include:
- Protein powders
- Vitamins and minerals
- Hair color
- Infused oil
- Products made of rubber
- Capsules, both pharmaceutical and vitamin
- Cleaning agents
The reason for halal certification of these products is they often contain non-halal animal byproducts or ethyl alcohol constituents as part of their makeup. They must also be alcohol-free to be halal certified. They must meet the criteria listed above (e.g., processing and storage) in order to be considered halal.
It is important to understand that all the ingredients used in a halal dish must be halal as well. Alcohol and non-halal animal derivatives are not allowed in a halal meal.
As stated earlier, any animal products used in halal cooking cannot come from carnivores, such as exotic meats like alligator or birds of prey (any bird with large talons); pork, or lard.
Is Halal for Muslims Only?
The short answer: no. With over 2 billion halal consumers, its practice can be embraced by those of any faith, ethnicity, gender, or any other demographic. A halal lifestyle is often adopted by those who are interested in animal welfare and humane methods of slaughter.
Is Kosher Halal?
Kosher is a term that many companies are also familiar with. Kosher plays a similar role for those of the Jewish faith, as halal does for those who are Muslim. Kosher and halal certification share many commonalities including the prohibition of pork and non-ritually slaughtered animal derivatives. However, not all kosher products are halal and vice-versa. Kosher certification differs from halal in its prohibition of mixing between dairy and meat and allowance of certain alcohols.
We hope this guide has answered any questions you may have had about what halal in regard to food, drink, and other products is. Our three-step certification process is designed to quickly and easily certify your food processing facility. If you’re interested in your business becoming halal certified, contact the American Halal Foundation today. +1 (630) 759-4981