The term ‘halal’ simply means lawful or permitted. Therefore, when someone is referring to halal type foods, they’re talking about foods that are specifically allowed to be consumed under Islamic Sharia law. Essentially, in order for any food to actually be considered halal, it has to abide by the observance and religious rituals of Sharia law.
The Muslim community chooses to consume halal food since it adequately meets the necessary requirements they think is appropriate for them to eat. Halal stems from key rules established in the Qur’an as well as the Hadith that have been continually followed throughout many generations of the Islamic religion. In other words, knowing exactly how their food is produced is a very important aspect for Muslims.
Generally speaking, halal pertains to more than just food. Because the term ‘halal’ means permissible, it can literally mean any element of life that’s covered by Islamic teachings.
Halal is a key aspect of Sharia as an intricate system of ethics and morals in order to help guide the actions and behaviour of Muslims. This should not, however, be confused as a more codified system regarding Sharia law.
Just like many other aspects of practising Islam, the true definition of what’s considered halal food is another issue that’s contested. For instance, there’s an ongoing debate in the Muslim community regarding whether or not stunning animals prior to being slaughtered actually produces halal type meat. Either side draws on the traditions and teachings of Islam in order to support their claim.
How Certification Works
There are basically three different types of certification:
1. Each product can be certified, which means the ingredients and production process for that specific product are halal. As a result, a shopper could purchase halal yoghurt, for instance, from a store that offers non-halal yoghurt as well.
2. Production facilities can also be certified, meaning any products produced according to standards are considered halal. For instance, in a halal-certified slaughterhouse, the meat itself is considered halal regardless of the cut. But, it may not be labeled as halal once it gets to market.
3. Also, retail sites can be halal-certified so that any food prepared and subsequently sold from there is considered halal.
Depending on who performs the service, the overall certification process will vary, which is where doubt generally arises. Muslim consumers are primarily unable to determine what food production process has been strictly followed during the certification process in addition to what standards have been established by the certification provider.
Why is Certification Necessary?
Certification is necessary for a couple of reasons.
To begin with, certification helps local area Muslims determine which exact products to purchase. Globalised markets and modern-day food processing techniques make it very difficult for Muslims to know precisely where their food comes from and how it’s processed. In order to avoid this doubt, anyone who wishes to buy halal-produced food needs a plausible system that checks whether or not products actually meet the stringent requirements of halal food.
By comparison, halal certification is much like any other kind of food certification process. Whether it’s organic, gluten-free, kosher, or halal, food certification services are obligated to help consumers make informed decisions regarding the food they’re eating. Food industries across the globe are choosing to embrace halal in order to complete in the huge Muslim halal market.
The other reason primarily relates to trade. With the worldwide halal food trade industry estimated at more than $1.70 trillion each year, Muslim markets offer a very profitable opportunity for other companies to engage in. However, if certain companies wish to export their particular products to those halal markets, they need to be certified.