Halal Certification 101 For Entreprenuers
Dr. Mian N. Riaz
So you have been mulling over the possibility of entering the halal certified products business. Well, if you want to get to know what is involved and what steps to take, you have come to the right place. Let us start at the very beginning. What does IFANCA do? In a nutshell, the organization examines the lists of ingredients that go into products ranging from food to personal care items, production processes and machinery used. IFANCA determines whether those processes and ingredients are halal or not. If not halal, our clients, the manufacturers are informed as to what would be a suitable halal substitute. Only once those changes are made, do we proceed to label a product as IFANCA halal certified.
All foods pure and clean are permitted for Muslims; except the following, including any products derived from them or contaminated with them: 1) carrion or dead animals; 2) blood; 3) swine, including all by-products; 4) alcohol and 5) animals slaughtered without pronouncing the name of God on them. If food companies can avoid ingredients from these sources, halal food production is very similar to regular food production.
The following are some common food ingredients whose sources the food processor need to be aware of: food additives, amino acids; animal fat and protein; colors; dressings, sauces and seasonings; emulsifiers; enzymes; fats and oil; fat based coatings, grease and release agents; flavors and flavorings; gelatin; glycerin; hydrolyzed protein; meat and its byproducts; packaging materials; stabilizers; thickening agents; vitamins and whey protein. During the processing of halal products, it is necessary to eliminate contamination with non- halal ingredients.
A halal certificate is a document issued by an Islamic organization, certifying that the product meets Islamic dietary guidelines, comprising of but not limited to the following:
The duration for which a certificate is valid depends upon the type of product.
The halal certification process starts with choosing an organization that meets your needs for the markets you would like to service. Just as potential entrepreneurs need to understand the principles of halal, they should be aware of the halal requirements of different countries. Any individual Muslim, Islamic organization, or agency can issue a halal certificate. However, many countries like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia have government-approved halal programs, whereas the predominantly food exporting countries have independent certification bodies.
If your target is a specific country, it is better to use an organization that is approved, recognized, or acceptable in that country. If your market area is broader or even global, then an organization with an international scope would better meet your needs.
As of this writing, Malaysia and Indonesia are the only countries that have a formal program to approve halal certifying organizations. Both nations have specific approved halal certifiers for their imports. Of the forty plus US halal certifying organizations only five have been approved by the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI). The Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) has just three approved of them. IFANCA is on both nation’s approval list.
When deciding on a halal certifying agency, entrepreneurs must also take the time to learn which halal certifiers best meets their needs. IFANCA’s strength, for instance, lies in its organizational model that combines the expertise of scientists and religious experts. The result is overwhelming accuracy as to what is halal and what is not. Further, the sheer variety of ingredients it has certified is unparalleled for product lines from sauces to soap, meats to flavors, colors and fragrances. Another IFANCA asset is its extensive knowledge of food industry safety standards and regulations for nations across the world. Last but not the least, IFANCA clients range from small businesses to multi-nationals.
With the increasing complexity of ingredients and extensive use of animal by-products, any product consumed by Muslims should be certified, whether the product is consumed internally or applied to the body externally. Medicines and pharmaceutical products which are used for health reasons need not be certified; however, knowledgeable consumers look for products that are halal certified or atleast meet halal guidelines. The products that may be certified include:
Overall, the process for halal certification of the food products is not complicated.
About the Author: Dr. Mian Riaz is Director of the Food Protein R&D Center, Texas A&M University.