Halāl in the Food Industry

In regards to food, Halal is the set of standards that determine whether or not a product meets Islamic dietary restrictions. There are varying standards of Halal due to different understandings of Islamic Law by Islamic Scholars. This is why you will find multiple Halal certifiers in a locality.

As a Halal certifier, HFSAA is proud to implement a higher standard of Halal that is inclusive of the personal Halal standards of the vast majority of Muslims.

Below are some general guidelines for Halal compliance from farm to fork:

  • Humane Treatment of Animals

  • Majority Vegetarian Feed
  • Slaughtered by a Muslim
  • Verbal Blessing
  • Allow blood to drain
  • No Cross-Contamination between Halal & Non-Halal products
  • No traces of alcohol (derived from grapes/dates)
  • No Cross-Contamination of Halal & Non-Halal foods
  • No animal byproducts (unless slaughtered Halal) except eggs & dairy
  • No adding alcohol/wine

Academic Look at Halāl

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

“That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful is clear, and between the two of them are doubtful matters about which many people do not know. Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honor, but he who falls into doubtful matters [eventually] falls into that which is unlawful…” (Bukhari)

The Qur’an reminds Muslims to consume Halal:

“O you who believe, eat of the good things We have provided to you and be grateful to Allah, if it is He whom you worship.” [Chapter 2, Verse 172]

The unlawful foods are specifically mentioned in the Qur’an, in the following verses:

“He has only prohibited for you carrion, blood, the flesh of swine and that upon which a name of someone other than ‘Allah’ has been invoked…” [Chapter 2, Verse 173]
“Prohibited for you are: carrion, blood, the flesh of swine, and those upon which (a name) other than that of Allah has been invoked (at the time of slaughter), animal killed by strangulation, or killed by a blow, or by a fall, or by goring, or that which is eaten by a beast unless you have properly slaughtered it; and that which has been slaughtered before the idols, and that you determine shares through the arrows. (All of) this is sin…” [Chapter 5, Verse 3]

Consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants is also prohibited:

“O you who believe! Wine, gambling, altars and divining arrows are filth, made up by Satan. Therefore, refrain from it, so that you may be successful.” [Chapter 5, Verse 90]

Meat is the most strictly regulated of the food groups. An Islamic Law maxim is that all foods are by default Halal, except meat. For meat to be considered Halal it must meet certain criteria. For example, the Qur’an states to pronounce the name of Allah at the time of slaughter:

“So, eat (the meat) of that (animal) upon which the name of Allah has been invoked (when slaughtering), if you do believe in His verses.” [Chapter 6, Verse 118]
“Do not eat that (meat) over which the name of Allah has not been pronounced. This is surely a sin. The satans inspire their friends to dispute with you. If you were to obey them, you would be Mushriks (polytheists).” [Chapter 6, Verse 121]

Attempts have been made to explain or justify some of the prohibitions based on scientific reasoning as follows:

  • Carrion and dead animals are unfit for human consumption because the decaying process leads to the formation of chemicals which are harmful to humans
  • Blood that is drained from the body contains harmful bacteria, products of metabolism, and toxins
  • Swine serves as a vector for pathogenic worms to enter the human body. Infections by Trichinella spiralis and taenia solium are not uncommon. Fatty acids and composition of pork fat have been mentioned as incompatible with human fat and biochemical systems
  • Intoxicants are considered harmful for the nervous system and affect human judgement, leading to social and family problems and in many cases even death.

Although these explanations are sound, the underlying principle behind the prohibitions remains that it is a commandment of Allah (God).

Islamic jurisprudence has derived certain principles from the Hadith to determine whether a particular animal or bird is lawful or unlawful.

  • Land Animals (ex: cattle, lamb, goats, camels, etc.)
  • Domestic birds (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.)
  • Fish

These animals (excluding fish) will only be considered Halal for consumption if slaughtered according to the Shariah

(not a comprehensive list)

  • Animals not slaughtered according to Shariah
  • Animals killed in a manner which prevents their blood from being fully drained from their bodies
  • Swine/Pig
  • Carnivorous animals with fangs (ex: lions, dogs, wolves, tigers, etc.)
  • Predatory birds (ex: falcons, eagles, owls, vultures, etc.)
  • Pests (ex: rats, scorpions, etc.)
  • Insects
  • Male reproduction organs
  • Female reproduction organs
  • Pancreas
  • Gall bladder
  • Bladder
  • Blood
  • Wine (alcohol derived from grapes or dates)
  • Intoxicants of all types, including alcohol and drugs
  • THC

(not a comprehensive list)