BYLINE: Halal Food Authority UK

When it comes to making food choices, effort is always made to go for the best based on an informed decision.

This article is a humble effort to enhance consumer awareness on the Halal Certification process so that they are aware of the difference between self-proclaimed halal and certified halal.

Certification plays a decisive role in buying choices as it inspires consumer’s trust and confidence because of the transparency and verifiability of the process. There are different halal standards, that are a prerequisite of access for clients and manufacturers who want to trade in a specific country to meet its demand and grasp the market.

A product certified by a competent and well-established halal certification body is accepted globally without any need for further investigation or verification.

Product approval is a very sensitive process that requires focussed and in-depth analysis which is only possible under a competent and experienced technical team.

Halal certification bodies have a well-structured and highly organised system for product approval which is the first step towards halal certification.

Product submissions as well as supporting documents are reviewed and scrutinised by highly qualified, trained and experienced food technologists. Halal certification is the basis for making and maintaining a halal claim.

In this lieu, self-proclaimed halal food is not only a challenge for the food industry but a big threat for consumers’ health too as it comes without any authenticity or verifiability.

One may find a number of some self-proclaimed halal products simply bearing an inscription of The Arabic word that neither stands for any halal certification body nor represents any traceability or any authenticable process of ensuring halal standards.

On the other, halal certification bodies put more financial and human resources to ensure product authenticity which is almost impossible in the case of self-proclaimed products.

They have designed a detailed process of reviewing and approving product documents, verifying sites through surveillance audits to evaluate the halal control point (HCP) and ensuring that product and manufacturing processes fulfill the requirements of halal standards.

The halal products approved by Halal certification bodies depict specific logos/ symbols that are identifiable and traceable. These bodies ensure halal authenticity from farm to fork and provide detailed records from raw materials to finished products.

Throughout the process, due consideration is given to ensure that product labelling does not create any confusion in the Muslim community. Labels are scrutinised and approved to put on products that are approved by a halal certification body before releasing a product to the market.

Halal information is not just in the English language but is bilingual or even multilingual to ascertain the traceability of the products in every possible manner and help consumers understand the label in a better way.

Hidden ingredients such as processing aids, anti-caking agents, carriers, and incidental ingredients from various sources present another serious problem for Muslim consumers.

Magnesium or calcium stearates are used in the manufacturing of candy and chewing gum without mentioning the origin of the stearates.

Halal certification of the product, proper halal markings, and logos can clarify the doubt for consumers as it requires clear labelling of the source of the ingredients like gelatine, lecithin, mono & diglycerides, etc.

The animal source ingredients such as oils, fats, meat derivatives, or extracts like gelatine and rennet also need to be declared. A product with a halal-certified logo makes life easier for consumers to make prudent choices while purchasing products from the market.

The Halal-certified foods are monitored and certified from farm to form. The food supply chain and its related equipment are regularly examined, verified, and validated through halal audits. This exercise is conducted to eliminate any risk of haram (non-halal) food contamination.

Summing it up, one can safely say that simply labelling a product does not make it halal. Under any circumstances, the claim must be supported by some verifiable facts, and Halal Certification by an authorised body such as the Halal Food Authority, is the best answer to all the questions that may come to a consumer’s mind before making a prudent choice.