Industry Articles

Understanding Halal Food

Understanding Halal FoodIn the preparation and handling of Halal food, one must take the following into due consideration:

  1. Sources of Halal Food
    1. Animals
      Animals can be divided into two categories namely:
      1. Land Animals
      2. Aquatic Animals

      All land animals are lawful as food, except the following:
      1. Swine, and all products and ingredients derived from swine;
      2. Land animals that are not slaughtered according to Shariah Law;
      3. Carnivorous animals with fangs, such as lions, tigers and bears;
      4. Birds of prey with sharp claws, such as eagles;
      5. Land animals that are not slaughtered according to Shariah Law;
      6. Animals that eats carrion, such as vultures;
      7. Food immolate unto idols;
      8. Animals that are considered filthy or that people find repulsive, such as mice, flies and bat;
      9. Animals that are forbidden to be killed, such as ants and bees.

      Aquatic animals are those that live in water and cannot survive outside it, such as fish. All aquatic animals are Halal except for those that are poisonous, intoxicating or hazardous to health.

      In addition to that, the following are also considered non-Halal:
      1. Blood;
      2. Animals that live both on land and in water, such as frogs and salamanders.
        There has been a misconception with the Halal status of crabs. The popular belief is that certain kinds of crabs are non-Halal since it can live both on land and water. This is not true as crabs can either live on land or water, but not both. Land crabs cannot survive long in water and aquatic crabs cannot survive long on land. Hence, crabs do not belong to the category of animals that can survive on both habitats: land and water. That being the case, all crabs are Halal, as long as it is not poisonous or harmful to humans.

    2. Plants
      Just like aquatic animals, all types of plants products are Halal except for those that are poisonous, intoxicating or hazardous to health.

      It is imperative to note that although plants are generally Halal, it is important to know how it is being prepared. Truffle, for example, is Halal in its raw state. However, the process of extraction is doubtful due to the common use of either hogs/pigs or dogs to sniff and then extract the truffle from the ground. Likewise for Vegetarian food: all types of plants in its raw state is Halal, however, if it is prepared using non-Halal ingredients, the food becomes non-Halal.

    3. Drinks
      All kinds of beverages are Halal, except those that are poisonous, intoxicating or hazardous to health and that are mixed with Najis such as alcoholic beverages and flavouring wines.

      MUIS is of the view that non-alcoholic wine, beer or the likes are considered non-Halal. This is based on a fatwa by the Fatwa Committee, due to the following reasons:
      1. Even though the products contain low alcohol content (less than 0.5%) and/or have zero alcohol content and/or have its alcohol removed, the process of manufacturing the products is similar to the manufacturing of alcohol (khamr1). Thus, it is Haram even though the small amount of alcohol in the products does not cause an individual to be intoxicated.
      2. The products are being marketed in a manner that is similar to alcoholic beverages. Islam forbids an event that has resemblance or events that can lead to Haram activities, even though, in its’ natural state, is permissible. This is aligned with a principle in the Sharia’ known as sad al-zari’ah2.

      Thus, products that meet the first or second criteria or meet both criteria are considered non-halal for Muslims consumption.

  2. Product Storage, Display and Servings
    All Halal products that are stored, displayed, sold or served should be categorised and should be labelled as Halal or lawful at every stage of the process so as to prevent it from being mixed or contaminated with things that are non-Halal.

  3. Product Processing and Handling
    A processed food is Halal if it meets the following conditions:
    1. The product and its ingredients do not contain any components or products of animals that are non-Halal by Shariah Law or animals that are not slaughtered according to Shariah Law;
    2. The product does not contain anything in large or small quantities that is considered as Najis according to Shariah Law;
    3. The product is prepared, processed or manufactured using equipment and facilities that are free from contamination with Najis; and
    4. During its preparation, processing, storage or transportation, it should be fully separated from any other food that does not meet the requirements specified in items (a), (b) and/or (c) or any other things that are considered as Najis by Shariah Law.

  4. Hygiene and Sanitation
    Hygiene is given much emphasis in Islam. It includes the various aspects of personal hygiene, clothing, equipment and the working premises for processing or manufacture of food. The objective is to ascertain that the food produced is hygienic and not hazardous to health.

    ‘Hygienic’ can be defined as free from Najis, contamination and harmful germs. All foods should be prepared, processed, packaged, transported and stored in such a manner that they are in compliance with hygiene and sanitary requirements of the relevant authorities.

  5. Risk categorisation
    Certificate holders are required to substantiate all ingredients/raw materials used with necessary documents. We have illustrated the risk categorisation and its required documents in the table below:

Understanding Halal Food