A case was registered in Lucknow on November 17 based on a complaint accusing a company and some organizations of certifying products as ‘Halal’ to increase their sales among the Muslim community. Following this, the Uttar Pradesh government on Saturday imposed a statewide ban on “production, storage, distribution and sale of Halal certified food items” with immediate effect.
The FIR, lodged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code at Hazratganj police station in Lucknow on the complaint of a person named Shailendra Sharma, names Halal India Pvt Ltd, Chennai; Jamiat Ulema Hind Halal Trust, Delhi; Halal Council of India, Mumbai; and Jamiat Ulema Maharashtra, Mumbai. They are accused of “defrauding customers of a particular religion by providing Halal certification on certain products in the name of religion by taking financial benefits to increase their sales”.
Check here what is Halal, what are Halal certificates, who issues them and why this food label is needed.
What is Halal?
Halal is an Arabic word. In Islam, halal is any item or work that is accepted and approved according to Islamic jurisprudence. Although the term can apply to broadly any object or activity, it is more often heard in connection with dietary laws for Muslims.
Loosely translated into English the word means ‘lawful’ or ‘permissible’. The opposite of this word in the Quran and Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) is ‘haram’, which means ‘forbidden’ or ‘unlawful’.
Like Orthodox Jews, who eat only ‘kosher’ (permitted according to Jewish law) food, Muslims are advised to eat only halal food, which must be processed in compliance with Islamic laws.
Understanding Halal Foods and How to Detect It
In Islamic dietary laws, the term “halal” refers to what is acceptable, with strict criteria governing both the food and its source. Muslims follow specific guidelines to ensure that their dietary choices conform to Islamic principles, which distinguish between halal (permitted) and haram (forbidden) foods.
For a food to be considered halal, not only must it come from a halal source, but it must also be free of non-halal ingredients. For example, dishes prepared using the French flambé method, which include alcohol, are considered haram according to Islamic dietary laws. Similarly, classic pasta carbonara made from traditional guanciale (cured pig cheeks) is not halal; However, the version made from chicken is considered suitable for consumption.
Halal Food Source
In addition to following ritual procedures, a general rule exists to identify halal animals, birds and aquatic creatures.
Halal land animals must meet specific criteria: they must not be predators, have two-cloven hooves (for example, sheep, camels), and use their canines to tear skin and tear meat. Should be avoided. Therefore, predatory terrestrial animals fall under the category of haram for Muslims. In contrast, non-predatory terrestrial animals – those that survive on grass and leaves without preying on other creatures – are considered halal. Animals explicitly prohibited include pigs, donkeys and mules.
Among land animals, except locusts, those that lack blood, such as hornets, flies, arachnids, beetles, scorpions and ants, are considered haram. Cold-blooded animals, insects, reptiles and amphibians are also excluded from the halal category.
In the avian realm, all birds of prey – those that hunt with claws or talons, such as falcons, eagles, kites, hawks and bats – are classified as haram.
Among aquatic animals, all fish are considered halal. If aquatic life is considered anything other than fish (classified under the category of mammal) then it should not be considered halal.
While there are different schools of thought in Islam that refer to the permissibility factor, they more or less agree on the above methods of determining halal animals.
Importantly, for an animal to be considered halal, it must be slaughtered through the Zabiha method or the blood-extraction method. This method involves precise cutting of the jugular vein, carotid artery and trachea – which is in line with Islamic principles.
What is Halal Certificate and what are the criteria?
Halal certification means that the particular product or service is suitable for consumption by Muslims. For trading purposes, mainly for food and related products, it is necessary to obtain Halal certification in Islamic countries. Typically, Halal certification is sought by hotels, restaurants, slaughterhouses, and manufacturing firms for the packaging and labeling of food products to ensure that they are acceptable to Muslim consumers.
Islamic law prohibits the consumption of blood, meat and animals that are not killed by bleeding, the particular method of killing an animal by draining its blood, unlike the ‘jhatka’ method preferred by Sikhs and Hindus , in which the animal is killed immediately. ‘Jhatka’ is believed to be derived from the Sanskrit word ‘jhatati’, which means ‘immediately’ or ‘immediately’.
However, Halal certification is not limited to food products only. From raw materials for food processing to non-alcohol beverages, and from pharmaceutical and health care products to cosmetics, cleaning products and consumer goods, all apply for Halal certification for greater consumer acceptance.
Does vegetarian food also need Halal certificate?
Halal certification does not only relate to meat products or animal by-products. Even some vegetarian items may contain non-halal ingredients like alcohol.
For example, L-cysteine, an amino acid, can be found in bread and flour and used in baking. While L-cysteine is mostly produced by fermentation, it is also obtained from the hydrolysis of chicken feathers in France and human hair in China. Thus, Halal certificate is provided even for vegetarian products and goods.
Who issues Halal certificate in India?
Unlike the Gulf countries, there is no official regulator or body for certification of halal products in India. Certification to companies, products or food establishments is provided by third-party bodies such as Halal India and Jamiat-Ulema-e-Hind Halal Trust. In Arab countries, a magistrate grants halal certification.
According to Halal India’s website, its certification is recognized by the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology of the UAE, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia and the Ministry of Public Health of Qatar. According to the website, it can cost up to Rs 30,000 for a new customer to obtain a Halal certificate.
However, India has guidelines on the export of Halal-certified meat and its products, which were issued by the Commerce Ministry earlier this year. As per the norms, production, processing and packaging of Halal-certified meat should be done in a facility authorized by a body recognized by the Quality Council of India.