If you are reading this, you have probably been mulling over the possibility of entering the halal certified products business. According to business trends, halal is a $2.1 trillion global market, with North America’s share at US $20 million annually for halal foods. With the increasing complexity of ingredients and extensive use of animal by-products, any product destined for Muslim consumers should be certified, whether the product is consumed or applied topically. While medicines and pharmaceutical products which are used for health reasons need not be certified, knowledgeable consumers still tend to look for products that are halal certified or at least meet halal guidelines. As an entrepreneur, halal certification can be your key to the halal market and you, most likely, want to know how to make a successful foray.
Let us start at the very beginning.
What Do Halal Certification Agencies Do?
In a nutshell, halal certification agencies examine the lists of ingredients used in products ranging from food to personal care items, to products used during the production process to machinery. During the processing of halal products, it is necessary to eliminate contamination with non-halal ingredients. Agencies, such as IFANCA, determine whether these processes and ingredients are halal. If not halal, manufacturers are informed of suitable halal substitutes. Only once those changes are made does the agency proceed to label a product as halal certified. When it comes to food production, if companies avoid haram or prohibited ingredients from these sources, halal food production is very similar to regular food production.
What Is a Halal Certificate?
Halal certificates are documents certifying that a product meets Islamic dietary guidelines, confirming but not limited to the following:
- The product does not contain pork or its by-products, alcohol, prohibited food ingredients of animal origin.
- It has been prepared and manufactured on clean equipment, in sanitary conditions.
- Meat and poultry components are from animals slaughtered according to Islamic Law.
Who Is Authorized to Issue Halal Certificates?
Any individual Muslim, Islamic or non-Muslim organization/agency can issue a halal certificate. When deciding on a good halal certifying agency, entrepreneurs must take the time to learn which halal certifiers best meet their needs. If your target is a specific country, it is better to use a halal certification organization that is approved, recognized, or acceptable in that country. If your market area is broader or even global, then an organization with international experience would better meet your needs.
IFANCA’s strengths include:
- An organizational model that combines the expertise of food scientists and religious experts. The result is overwhelming accuracy as to what is halal and what is not.
- The sheer variety of ingredients certified — over 25,0000 — is unparalleled for product lines from sauces to soap, meats to flavors, colors and fragrances.
- As a food industry insider, IFANCA has extensive knowledge of food industry safety standards and regulations for nations across the world.
- IFANCA clients range from small one-person businesses to multi-nationals.
- IFANCA has representatives all over the world.
- IFANCA is recognized by many countries including Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia that have government-approved halal certification programs. Indonesia and Malaysia, in fact, 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). Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (JAKIM) has only three approved US halal certifying organizations. IFANCA is on both nation’s approval list.
Halal Certification Process
The process for halal certification of food products is not complicated.
- Fill out the halal certification application via the agency’s website or a hard copy explaining your production process, the products to be certified, regions the products will be sold/marketed in, along with specific information about the component ingredients. Most organizations review the information and set up an audit of the facility.
- Once the ingredient information is reviewed and/or the facility audit is complete, you will be asked to replace ingredients that do not meet halal guidelines.
- Inspection and approval of the manufacturing facility. This includes a review of the production equipment, the physical ingredients, as well as cleaning procedures, sanitation and potential for cross-contamination.
- Inspection confirming the humane treatment of animals including proper feeding, raising, transporting and holding prior to slaughter.
- For slaughterhouses, it involves hiring trained Muslim slaughter-men, review of slaughtering areas including restraining, method of stunning, actual slaying, pre and post slaying, handling, etc.
- Determining the cost and fees involved and signing of the contract. At this time, it would be advisable to negotiate the fees and have a clear understanding of the costs involved, which may run into thousands of US dollars per year. Generally, the company and the halal certification agency sign a multi-year supervision agreement. Then a halal certificate may be issued for one year or for a shipment of a product.
- Payment of fees and expenses.
- Issuance of the halal certificate.
- Printing of halal markings on packaging. When a product is certified halal, a symbol is normally printed on the package to identify the product as halal. For example, IFANCA uses the Crescent-M symbol which signifies “good for Muslims.” Each halal certification agency has its own halal marking on packaging.
Ingredients Reviewed for Halal Status:
- Food additives
- Amino acid
- Animal fat and protein
- Sauces and seasonings
- Fats and oil
- Fat based coatings
- Grease and release agents
- Flavors and flavorings
- Glycerin Hydrolyzed protein
- Meat and its byproducts
- Packaging materials
- Thickening agents
- Whey protein
Sample Product Lines That Need Certification:
- Meat and poultry fresh, frozen and processed products
- Prepared foods and meals
- Packaged foods
- Personal care products
- Nutritional and dietary supplements
- Packaging materials
About the Author: Dr. Mian Riaz is Director of the Food Protein R&D Center, Texas A&M University and on the IFANCA Board of Directors.