The Case for Halal Certification if There Is No Meat in a Product
Dr. Farhat Quadri
Chocolate is a universal weakness. Its ingredients generally are cocoa, sugar, butter, whey, nuts. It could also be flavored with mint, strawberry or vanilla. And it could contain emulsifiers such as egg yolks or lecithin. The making of food is a complex process and we’re not talking about cooking in the kitchen. Moreover, with food scientists and technologists formulating foods that are safe, flavorful and meet nutritional needs, food formulas change on a daily basis.
But, you ask why certify food if there is no meat in the product?
Believe it or not, given today’s globalized food chain each of these ingredients often come from different countries and are assembled in yet another country. This means there are many opportunities for the food to be cross-contaminated with non-halal ingredients. Further, as food ingredients travel great distances, they need preservatives to retain their quality.
Food formulas are constantly changing. For instance, in the beginning there were potatoes. If you froze them, they turned to mush when defrosted. If you left them out too long, they would rot. Today, we are able to have French fries, hash browns, mashed potatoes, tater tots, sweet potato fries and those are only some frozen versions of the hearty potato. Without food technology, frozen potatoes wouldn’t be palatable. Whether it is the harnessing of medicinal properties of traditional foods such as lentils and Greek yogurt, or creating new foods, food scientists and technologists are responsible for formulating foods that are safe, flavorful and meet nutritional needs. With nine billion people to feed by mid-century, these innovations are not only important they are necessary. Adept at creating imitation products, food technologists create both natural Greek Yogurt and Greek Yogurt made with Ingredion® starch — both equally nutritious, both aimed at pleasing the palate. This is especially significant when it comes to feeding millions where food shortage is common. IFANCA halal certification ensures that all the ingredients and processes are in keeping with Islamic dietary laws. Halal certification means products containing additives such as preservatives, flavors and other processing aids, are verified to be free from questionable ingredients.
In August & September 2012, National Public Radio (NPR) ran a story on farmers who could no longer afford corn and soy feed for their cattle. (See related story: When the Price Is Not Always Right). They were resorting to feeding their cattle chocolate, gummy bears and bakery byproducts such as “bread, dough, pastries, even Cap’n Crunch,” Trends like these make the need for IFANCA halal certification increasingly obvious. We review the origin of ingredients in your food, personal care products and even the lubricants on food processing equipment, so when there is an IFANCA stamp of approval on a product, you can be certain the ingredients used are from halal sources.
Halal certification implies quality assurance. And that is a service that the food scientists, food technologists and religious advisors at IFANCA provide. At IFANCA, we’re on the cutting edge of food industry trends. 60% of our food technologists and food scientists have Masters degrees and 40% have Ph.D’s in the field. Our religious advisors are internationally respected Islamic scholars with expertise in Islamic Usul-Al-Fiqh and the Shariah. All food additives and ingredients are evaluated by IFANCA to make sure that the food you believe to be halal, truly is halal. Its Crescent-M logo is your stamp of assurance.
Food Processing refers to the various ways and means to transform raw ingredients into food that you and I can eat. These methods include canning, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration and aseptic processing. Elements of halal food processing involve assuring:
If you have more specific questions, the IFANCA website has further details on what’s in our food from colors to emulsifiers. You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be sure to respond. We look forward to hearing from you.
About the Writer: Dr. Syed Farhatulla Quadri is Director of Community Services at IFANCA. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Food Sciences and Nutrition from Kansas State University. He serves as an IFANCA liaison to civic organizations, correctional institutes as well as Islamic Community Centers and his responsibilities include conducting educational seminars and workshops on halal.
Besides food, the latest halal trends include the certification of vaccines and even ports. Two important vaccines, Gardasil® and Prevanor® are now halal certified. The Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium, a state-of-the-art facility, is the largest port in Europe and a gateway to the European Union. As of July 2012, Brussels based Halal Food Council of Europe (HFCE; www.hfce.eu), an IFANCA sister organization, certified the Port of Zeebrugge and warehouses at Ziegler Brussels Airport, for halal trade. Projects like these represent the lengths that IFANCA, and its sister organizations, go to ensure that products used by halal consumers are contamination free, halal and wholesome.