Consuming Halal products earned by Halal means is a crucial obligation of Muslims wherever they live. As per the Islamic tenets, it’s the responsibility of each Muslim to follow norms and values as provided by the Holy Quran and Hadiths as best as they can in their lifestyle , albeit it’s challenging to assimilate Islamic norms to a non-Muslim majority surrounding. Due to widespread scare in world regarding food safety and security, like the threat of diseases, there’s strong evidence that non-Muslims also now prefer Halal foods for additional safety, hygiene and quality assurance features. They believed that the assembly of Halal foods requires strict ingredients, therefore, reducing the probability of contamination. This implies that the demand of Halal products and services is now becoming more substantial. The industry of halal isn’t only about slaughtering animals in accordance with sharia anymore; it also includes Halal food, Halal lifestyle and even Halal services. Halal in Islam means “legal” or “permitted”. It are often defined as anything that’s permitted and upon which no restriction exists and therefore the doing of which is allowed by Almighty “ALLAH” . The potential returns and opportunity to capture untapped market in a place like Jammu and Kashmir has encouraged multinational food ventures, predominantly from the corporations owned by non-Muslims, to engage and invest heavily in this segment of the market. These corporations are investing huge amount of capital to incorporate the values, standards and guidelines of Sharia (Islamic Laws) in their operations. Thus, it is unavoidable that the demand for Halal products and services, especially food products, will increase in the near future. This motive of compiling this write-up will try to clear misconception between Halal, hygienic and safety of foods.
The word “Halal” (originated from Arabic language meaning: allowable, acceptable, permitted, and/or permissible. The Halal is usually used as a way, animals are slaughtered for consumption. For a food to be Halal important aspects like way of slaughter (zabah) mandates that, the butcher should follow tenets of Islam (he should be Muslim), the animal that has been chosen to be slaughtered should be disease free and healthy, the animal should have been bred in an open atmosphere and during the process of slaughtering the butcher should invoke the name of Allah with takbeer “Bismillah, Allahu Akbar” and the animal should be placed in such a way that it faces the Kaaba in Mecca (Qibla – the direction that Muslims face while praying- Not Mandatory). A sharp knife should be used to swiftly slice through the animal’s wind pipe, jugular veins and carotid arteries and the blood be allowed to drain out. While most countries advocate the process of stunning or rendering the animal unconscious before slaughtering it so as to reduce pain and shock. Halal bodies usually deter such humane measures. While western countries find these practices inhuman; Islam declares that only meat obtained in this fashion is permissible for consumption and holy. So, even in non-Islamic countries almost 70 to 80% of meat production adheres to the Halal way. Some aquatic forms are also Halal. Halal food can be categorized as: meat and poultry; dairy products; fish and seafood; cereals and confectionery; nutritional food supplements; and the food ingredients like gelatin and enzymes. Of all the above mentioned categories, meat and poultry are the most susceptible towards cross contamination with other non-Halal products, in which any form of contact between these two can make the Halal becomes non-Halal, or haram. Therefore, more efforts should be focused on this food category to ensure that the Halal integrity will not be breached and that it will remain Halal until it reaches its final customers.
The concept of Halal is not only related to food or food products (as most people will expect or think), but it goes beyond food to cover all the aspects of a Muslim person life (male or female). Within this regard the concept of Halal is built around the need for any Muslim to have products that are allowable, acceptable, permitted, and permissible from a religious point of view. As such, the concept of Halal includes any Islamic Sharia-compliant product’s which start with food and beverages and moves from it to hide banking and finance, tourism, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, jobs, travel, technology and transport services, etc. For a product to be Halal (compliant with Islamic Sharia) it must meet the wants of Sharia’s as found in its scriptures. The two most vital sources of Islamic sharia are the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). Halal refers to “things or action” which are permitted or legal in Islam, which conveys basic meaning and defines the standard of acceptability in accordance to Sharia obligations. Halal covers all aspects of life that require to be adhered to by its followers, including food consumption. The foods which are forbidden or prohibited are referred to as haram foods. The main motive is to adhere with the Halal guidelines, particularly from their daily food intake will ensure to safeguard the essence of Islam. In Holy Quran it has been clearly informed on what kind of food they should consume or should not consume. The reasons for prohibitions are better explained with clarifications through Muhaddiseen as proven from Sunnah. The reasons for forbidden dead animals and carcass are unfit for human consumption due to their decaying nature leading to the formation of toxins which are harmful to humans. Blood that is drained from an animal contains harmful bacteria and toxins, and can be harmful to metabolism of human and development of their body.
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In today’s society, consumers are more concerned about their health and are more concerned towards safety of foods at every step during its processing, which successively helps them while consumption of Halal food. It covers the entire concept of consuming clean and hygienic food to market for better health. Consumers generally search for food that can keep them fit and improve their mental state as well as their quality of life. Halal food constitutes an important aspect of the Islam. The role of cultural practices and non-secular beliefs in food is complex but features a unified understanding among Muslim followers. For instance, the Halal logo or label on any food product communicates and convinces Muslim consumers that the foodstuff is manufactured, produced and made available in the market as per their religious requirement. On the opposite hand, the non-Muslim consumers understand that food items carrying the brand are prepared within the most hygienic way and clean to be consumed. Furthermore, it’s also been proven that non-Muslim consumers do respond positively to Halal products owing to its scientific explanation for hygiene practices adopted during halal method, this influences their behaviour towards halal food consumption. Muslims in India generally look for Halal certified restaurants that serve them with foods prepared as per religious laws and regulations. I have been personally experiencing and observing a trend across the country while visiting the famous food outlets, at different places in different restaurants, a certificate of Halal Method issued by some random organisation with a validity of 1-3 years is mounted onto the wall, which gives a sigh of relief to consumers for consumption. Does that mean anything Non-Vegetarian sold in Hotels, Malls, Restaurants are deemed to be declared as Halal, the answer is NO!. Let us try to analyse the implications and different aspects regarding the Halal methods of production of foods in context of our country, with a focus on recognised Halal regulatory bodies.
HALAL CERTIFICATION SYSTEM
Halal certification is that the process of certifying food products or services as pronounced by the sharia. In providing the re-assurance to Muslim consumers on the Halal quality, a system of the Halal certification and verification is seen to be a key element. Halal products are ensured quality products produced as wholesome foods and it integrates different processes of Quality control regulations viz Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and HACCP which are very important for any food processing unit to sustain in the market. Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is responsible, for underlying principles for Halal Standards under the banner of United Nations, for regulation of this clause globally. Halal certification process provides benefits to consumers and a competitive advantage for food producers. For the buyer, the advantages of a reliable Halal certifications are clear i.e., the end consumer doesn’t need to bother checking all the ingredients and learning all about processing and production. It also allows the consumers to confidently make an informed choice at the time of purchase. Halal certification is often used as a product differentiation technique which successively increases the company/restaurant’s revenue and enhances its marketability especially to Halal consumers. If the same food is to be exported, the Halal certificate will help in assuring authenticity to halal consumers in importing countries. At international level, it can enhance the marketability of the products especially in Muslim countries as there’s an increasing awareness on the part of Muslim consumers everywhere the world of their obligation to consume properly prepared Halal food.
In India various organisations viz Halal Trust which is the most important and oldest (established in 1919) Muslim NGO called Jamiat-Ulama-e-Hind. It is a non-government, non-profit organization playing an important role and marking its presence and growth within the global standards and also in the Indian Market. It is globally renowned and a number one Halal certification body from India and features a distinct and patented Halal logo which is widely known all across the planet. It operates within 7 offices in several regions all across the country. The organisation is well recognized by most of the Muslims residing in India, Australia, South Africa, Canada & America and helps in certifying restaurants, hotels, hospitals, processed food manufacturing unit, slaughter houses and other Halal certification related services.
Another Organisation namely Halal Committee Jamiat-Ulama-e-Maharashtra (JUM) takes care of all matters concerning the overall application of the term Halal with specific regard to Islamic dietary laws. Jamiat’s membership comprises of leading theological bodies (Sharia Committee) & professional individuals of the country (Technical Committee). Jamiat has been established as a representative authority, which promotes professionalism and excellence within the certification of Halal Food and other related products. Jamiat is committed to standardizing Halal procedures both nationally and internationally thereby creating uniformity & eliminating confusion and deception in the market place.
Various research studies Khan MI et.al:2016 have found that Halal standards don’t prescribe much towards Halal certification of the whole supply chain. Brand owners should extend Halal assurance towards supply chain management so as to safeguard their brand better. Halal assurance should be designed in such a way that it includes monitoring from sourcing, production and distribution levels. Halal certification should be covered in contracts and a criterion in logistics. Furthermore a team of technical experts should be formed to handle issues related to Halal quickly and adequately with Halal certification body as its ombudsmen. Government’s regulatory authorities in collaboration with Halal Certification Organisations should extend support to Halal requirements towards supply chain management for Halal certification of producers and restaurants.
Note: (The author is an Aspiring Food Technologist/Writer and opinions expressed in this article are based on scientific research carried by scholars, and has nothing to do with the organization he works for).