ASSALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAH Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
On the joyous occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr, IFANCA wishes everyone Eid Mubarak. May your fasting and deeds be accepted and your faith strenghtened. Let us strive to maintain the spirit of Ramadan with us throughout the year and to lend a helping hand to the many people who are suffering in our communities and around the world.
Background: Alcohol, also known as ethanol and ethyl alcohol, is a natural chemical present in most biological systems in varying quantities. Fruits, fruit juices and even milk may contain small amounts of naturally occurring alcohol. In the industry, alcohol is produced in several ways; such as, fermentation of starch to sugar to alcohol, hence called grain alcohol, from petrochemicals, called synthetic alcohol or from natural cane juice and beet sugar.
IFANCA realizes that the use and presence of alcohol in the food and flavor industry is quite common and almost ubiquitous in drinks and sweet goods. In many cases the use of alcohol is unavoidable, such as, raw material for making vinegar, solvent for extracting vanilla flavor and as a flavor carrier. However the presence of alcohol can be easily monitored and controlled to desired limits in the products, especially the ones formulated for Muslim markets in the USA and overseas.
After due consideration to the Islamic religious guidance, consultations with Islamic scholars, sensory evaluation of drinks containing small quantities of alcohol, and keeping in mind the industry practices, IFANCA has adopted the following guidelines for certifying products containing ethyl alcohol (ethanol). We hope that these guidelines would be universally accepted by the consumers and regulatory agencies. Certain Muslim countries have formulated their own guidelines to address the issue of incidental alcohol, both extrinsic and intrinsic in foods and beverages. The alcohol contribution to the products is not from traditional sources classified as khamr. We have made every effort to clarify issues pertaining to alcohol and alcoholic drinks [God knows best].
Alcoholic Beverages: Fermented and distilled alcoholic drinks may have as low as 4% to as high as above 50% alcohol. This category is considered khamr and prohibited for Muslims to consume in any quantity, according to the divine guidance. IFANCA uses the principle of zero tolerance for this category, which includes but is not limited to beer, wine, whiskey, brandy and vodka. Products containing any quantity, no matter how small, will not be certified as halal by IFANCA.
Non-alcoholic Beverages: There has been a trend in the alcoholic beverage industry to make so-called non-alcoholic beverages with names associated with alcoholic drinks, by removing the alcohol from traditional alcoholic drinks. According to the USFDA regulations, if the alcohol content of a product is less than 0.5%, the beverage can be considered and labeled as non¬alcoholic. Since these products are associated with alcoholic counterparts, and the names and brands are the same, IFANCA does not certify such products as halal.
Food Ingredients from the Alcoholic Beverages and Related Industries: Many food ingredients such as, grape seed oil, grape skin powder, tartrates and yeast powder are derived from the beverage industry. These ingredients if not used would go to waste and landfills. Humans as custodians of earth have an obligation to protect it. Keeping this principle in view, IFANCA may accept some of the ingredients from the beverage industry with proper due diligence with the scholars.
Fruit Juices: Most fruit juices may contain small amounts of naturally occurring alcohol. The amount of alcohol present is generally very small. Such products are Halal for consumption as well as further processing. Although there is no added alcohol, these products may test positive for alcohol, in very low parts per million (ppm).
Fruit Juices from Concentrates: When fruit juices are concentrated, naturally occurring ethyl alcohol may be concentrated and collected with the volatiles called essence. The alcohol content of such essence could be very high but there is no added alcohol from any source including fermented drinks. Such essence is added back at a natural proportion when reconstituting the juice. The critical parts of the essence are the flavoring compounds present in it rather than alcohol. The presence of alcohol is naturally incidental. A flavor company may use such essence to formulate a juice flavor and may add additional flavoring compounds. If flavors are used in the reconstituted juice, the total amount of intrinsic (naturally present) and extrinsic (added) ethyl alcohol as tested, may not exceed 1000 ppm or 0.1% for the product to be certified as Halal.
Carbonated and Non-Carbonated Drinks: Carbonated and non-carbonated drinks are formulated with various liquid and dry flavors. Alcohol is commonly used in making the flavors as well as in the manufacture of drinks in order to keep the flavoring compounds well mixed. Realizing the technical necessity to use alcohol in drinks, we treat alcohol as an unavoidable impurity. In traditional Islamic wisdom if an impurity cannot be detected by taste, sight or smell, it is small enough to ignore. In our organoleptic testing, 0.1% alcohol in a sugar solution could not be detected by taste or smell by a panel of tasters. IFANCA may certify drinks containing less than 0.1% or 1000 ppm alcohol.
However, the addition of any amount of alcoholic drinks (khamr) such as beer, wine, liquor, etc., to any drink or flavor would make the product unacceptable. IFANCA does not certify products containing any amount of alcoholic drinks (khamr), irrespective of the amount of alcohol present in the final product. Similarly, IFANCA does not certify any non-alcoholic drinks, such as non-alcoholic beer, non-alcoholic wine, etc. as discussed above.
Vinegar and Sauces: Vinegar is one of the recommended food condiments in Islam. The conventional method of making vinegar involves fermenting the grape juice, cane juice or other sugary liquids until the majority of the sugar is converted to acetic acid, the main component imparting taste to vinegar. In this process sugar is converted to alcohol and then to acetic acid. In the USA there may be around 0.2% residual alcohol remaining in the vinegar. In countries where there are no strict regulations, the alcohol level may even be higher than in the USA. Sauces may be naturally fermented or made with vinegar, hence they may contain a small amount of alcohol.
Flavors and Flavorings: The primary sources of ethyl alcohol in foods and drinks are the flavors. We realize that some of the flavors like natural vanilla flavor extracted with solvents other than ethyl alcohol are poor substitutes for vanilla flavor. Our recommendation to flavor manufacturers is that alcohol may be used as solvent but it must be reduced to below 0.5% for a flavor to receive an IFANCA Halal certificate.
Continuing Work: Our work does not stop here. IFANCA will continue to re-examine these guidelines and work with food and flavor industry, IFANCA religious advisory council and country specific Halal authorities to monitor and revise the guidelines. We have confirmation from Indonesia that Majelis Ulama Indonesia could approve the maximum level of ethanol as 0.1 %, if ethanol does not come from alcoholic beverages and its derivatives (khamr). JAKIM, the Malaysian religious authority also accepts products containing less than 0.1% alcohol from non-khamr sources.
We hope that this explanation suffices to address the issue of incidental alcohol (both intrinsic and extrinsic) in flavors. IFANCA strives to take the "doubt" out of "doubtful". We hope that tomorrow will be better than today, through continuous improvements in the food industry. May God give us the wisdom, the strength and the unity to accomplish our goals?
On August 18-20, 2011, the International Trade Fair for Food and Beverage Technology (FIAGRO) was successfully held at the Jockey Club Convention Center in Lima, Peru.
The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA®) actively participated at the fair. Halal educational information was handed out to attendees, where quite a few stopped over for further one-on-one discussions on halal certification. In addition, IFANCA's representative to the region, Sandro Monteblanco, CEO of Halal Peru, was invited as a key speaker at FIAGRO's conference. Dr. Sabir Ali, IFANCA's senior food technologist, was also present at this speaking event and tradeshow.
FIAGRO is held every two years in Peru to present and promote the sale of state-of-the-art equipment, supplies and services for the agricultural, food and beverage industries. The exhibition attracted more than 10,000 attendees, most of which are owners, directors, managers, supervisors, technicians and specialized personnel of the food and beverage manufacturing plants. The fair is an important platform to meet and discuss business trends and needs, and increase business potentials.
The Peruvian market for food and beverage products is large and competitive, with a considerable number of local and foreign brands. Halal certification in Peru and other South American economies is becoming the next big step for companies to enter key halal international markets.
US Retail Chain Partners With Halal Foods Manufacturer For Ramadan Halal Product Promotion
This year, a United States based retail chain, Whole Foods, partnered with Saffron Road Food, an IFANCA halal-certified company, to promote their halal products during Ramadan. This is the first time a prominent United States retail player has paid special attention to halal products, with a specific program during Ramadan. Whole Foods offered five gift card giveaways through prominent American Muslim halal food blogger, My Halal Kitchen, throughout Ramadan. Hundreds of American Muslims eagerlyparticipated at the chance to share their Iftar and Suhur recipes, as well as the chance for a free Whole Foods shopping experience.
The low key campaign designed to attract the American Muslim consumer also received some controversy. Yet, Whole Foods and Saffron Road successfully completed the program for the month of August. Many business media outlets, like Fast Company, have highlighted Whole Foods effort to attract American Muslim consumers, as a similar strategy to how retailers have attracted Jewish American and Mormon consumers, who have parallel special buying needs and purchasing habits. The American Muslim specialty food market, estimated at US$20 billion, seems to be on the track to receive similar treatment as other niche markets in the past.
In most Muslim-majority economies, Ramadan is treated as a major shopping and advertising season for food, beverage and wellness companies. Shopping patterns change, says Richard Noll, Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi X, and it offers strategic opportunities for food retailers. For Noll's complete interview, click here.
As the Customer Service Manager at IFANCA, I am the front-end face for our clients. I strive to provide quality customer service by presenting a professional and knowledgeable image of IFANCA. My goal is to make our valued clients completely satisfied, even under the most demanding times. In reciprocity, I am learning a lot about the halal industry and the new frontiers. The various halal niches the halal industry is creating should be exciting to any entrepreneur.
Meat and alcoholic beverages are generally the first items that come to mind when halal is mentioned. However, in reality the scope of halal products is expanding far from the expected farm to fork arena. I am learning that the global halal industry is reaching far beyond the slaughter house. Anything that goes into the alimentary canal and any product that can be topically applied are prime candidates for halal-certification.
Entrepreneurs in this $2 trillion business are now exploring untapped new frontiers. These include any product or service that can come into contact with the product to be halal-certified, throughout the production life cycle. The manufacturing supply chain continues through logistics, transportation and warehousing. At every phase, there must be controls to prevent cross contamination to maintain halal compliance.
Well established and recognized halal sectors go beyond the food and beverage sector and include pharmaceutical & health care products, traditional herbal neutraceutical products, cosmetics, toiletries and personal care products.
Product oriented new frontiers are numerous. Some of them include:
Lubricants for production equipment where the lubricant can potentially come in contact with the product,
Cleaning disinfectants to sanitize the surfaces where the product can come in contact,
Plastic containers such as buckets, drums or flexible film-bags which can be used for transporting the product during manufacturing or final packaging,
Refrigerants or quenching agents such as gases to cool the product,
Packaging materials for canisters or thermoformed blister packaging,
Coatings on films used for final packaging,
Coatings for stainless steel equipment to prolong the life and mitigate metal particles contaminating the product,
Compressed gases (helium, propane, nitrogen and argon) used in manufacturing lines, and
Liner material of caps for bottled products.
The services industry has not been left behind in this effort. Halal certifications are getting popular in the restaurant industry, hospitals, prison systems, the airline industry, academic institution cafeterias, the transportation industry, and finance.
We live in the internet world today. The first halal search engine, IMHALAL, was recently launched on the internet- born out of the need to make searching safe and avoid explicit content.
A logical question one may ask is: Can the small certification charge be passed on to the customers? Research on this topic conducted in Malaysia has shown that consumers are willing to pay extra for the halal effort. Clearly the halal growth potential is enormous.
IFANCA Gives Halal Education Seminar at Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago (ICNC), September 2011Topic: Global And Local Halal Market Opportunities; ICNC 320 N. Damen Avenue, Chicago, IL. Click here for more information.
IFANCA At American Muslim Consumer Conference 2011, Booth Pavilion On October 29, 2011, Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Visit us at the booth pavilion. Click here for more information.