Halal Foods

What are Halal Foods?

      According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), Halal food is food permitted under Islamic Law that fulfills the following conditions: Does not consist of or contain anything which is considered to be unlawful according to Islamic Law; has not been prepared, processed, transported or stored using any appliance or facility that was not free from anything unlawful according to Islamic Law; and has not in the course of preparation, processing, transportation or storage been in direct contact with any food that fails to satisfy the above.


Importance of Halal Foods

     While the world’s population is projected to grow 32% in the coming decades, the number of Muslims is expected to increase by 70% – from 1.8 billion in 2015 to nearly 3 billion in 2060 (Pewresearch.org 2017).

With the growing number of Muslims, there is going to be a growing demand for Halal foods. In addition, there is a demand for Halal food by non-Muslims as many consider Halal food to be more healthy and hygienic.

     To get a foothold in the global market, to attract new/retain old customers, it is important for the food industry to have a thorough understanding of the Halal laws, the Halal certification process and the use of trademarked logos. 
“From Niche to Mainstream, Halal Goes Global”  

Publication by The International Trade Centre (ITC) (A joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations).Publication Date: 16 Oct. 2015.

This book provides an overview of the global halal food and beverage market, with trade data, consumer trends, farm-to-fork challenges in the supply chain, and recommendations for trade and investment support institutions to promote a national halal industry.


Background Information

      Halal Foods or Foods that are Permissible for Consumption by Muslims Include:

  • Meat of
    • Domesticated animals like ruminants with split hooves (cattle, sheep, goat, or buffalo, for example)
    • Camels and rabbit
    • Birds that do not use their claws to hold down food, such as chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, pigeons, doves, partridges, quails, sparrows, emus, and ostriches.
  • Eggs and milk from permitted animals
  • Mannitol and sorbitol are sweeteners and not intoxicants
  • Fresh, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Grains and cereals
  • All of the above products must not be contaminated with Haram product
      Haram Foods or Foods that are Prohibited Include:

  • Meat of
    • Pigs and boars
    • Carnivorous animals such as lions, tigers, , cats, dogs, and wolves
    • Birds of prey such as eagles, falcons, osprey, kites, and vultures
    • Insects: Helpful insects like bees, ants, and spiders, and harmful or dirty creatures like lice, flies, and mosquitoes
    • Animals that die of natural causes (diseases, for example, or being gored by other animals, being strangled, falling from a height, beaten, or killed by wild beasts)
  • Anything made from blood
  • Alcoholic drinks and other intoxicants; alcohol cannot be used in cooking
  • Vanilla and other extracts and wine vinegar
  • Fermented fruits and vegetables if the fermentation produces alcohol
  • L-cysteine (if from human hair or non-Halal slaughtered feathers)
  • Animal enzymes unless specifically from a Halal slaughtered animal
  • Rennet from non-Halal slaughtered animals (plant, microbial and synthetic rennet, as well as rennet obtained from Halal slaughtered animals are allowed)


      Mashbooh (unclear foods)/Makrooh (detested foods) Include:

  • Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, colors and flavors are questionable (mashbooh) until more information is obtained, because the origin of these ingredients may be Haram (IFANCA standard)
  • Fish and seafood: Certain Islamic schools, particularly Shia, only accept fish with scales as Halal, while others consider as Halal everything that lives in the water all the time. Consequently, prawns, lobsters, crabs, and clams are Halal, but may be detested (Makrooh) by some, and hence not consumed.
  • Animals that live both in water and on land (amphibians) such as frogs, turtles, crocodiles, and seals are also not consumed by the majority of observant Muslims.
  • Yeast extract, autolyzed yeast from brewer’s yeast, cochineal/carmine color, shellac


Halal Slaughter

      Halal animals must be slaughtered by a Muslim invoking the name of Allah according to the Muslim religious requirements. Slaughter must be done by cutting the throat in a manner that induces rapid and complete bleeding, resulting in the quickest death. The generally accepted method is to cut at least 3 of the 4 passages (that is, the carotids, jugulars, trachea, and esophagus).
     For more information and details about Halal food laws please refer to:

  • Regenstein, J.M., M.M. Chaudry and C.E. Regenstein. (2003). The Kosher and Halal Food Laws. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 2: 111-127



       The Halal certification is an authoritative, reliable, and independent testimony that a manufacturer’s product meets the Halal requirements. Any individual Muslim, Islamic organization or agency can issue a Halal certificate, but the acceptability of the certificate depends upon the country of import or the Muslim community served through such certification. Many Muslim countries require that food products imported to their country be certified Halal by certifying organizations with prior recognition by that country’s importing authorities.

     Halal certification involves an intention of the company to go Halal, inspection of the production facility, review of sanitation, review of ingredients and labels, and training the company personnel in understanding and meeting the Halal requirements.

     Any food product (anything ingested) that is meant to be used in a Halal observant home should be certified. This may include: Drugs and food contact ingredients in packaging materials. In addition, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and personal care products also need certification.

     Steps Involved in Halal Certification Include:

  1. Filling out an application to the organization on paper or on the Internet. Review of the information by the organization, especially the type of the product and its components.
  2. Inspection and approval of the manufacturing facility. It includes review of the production equipment and physical ingredients, as well as cleaning procedures, sanitation and identifying where cross-contamination may occur.
  3. For animals, it includes the proper feeding and humane treatment of animals throughout raising, transporting and holding prior to slaughter.
  4. For slaughterhouses, it involves hiring trained Muslim slaughtermen and review of slaughtering areas, including restraining, method of stunning, actual slaying, pre- and post-slaying, handling, etc.
  5. Determining the cost and fees involved, and the signing of the contract.
  6. Payment of fees and expenses.
  7. Issuance of the Halal certificate.

For more information and details about Halal Certification please refer to:

  • Riaz, M.N.  (2010). Fundamentals of Halal Foods and Certification. Prepared Foods, [Volume]: 71-76.



     For more information on current literature on Halal please click on the following: Halal References

     For up-to-date Halal alerts: Check the website of the product’s certifying agency

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