What Does it Mean if a Product is Halal Certified?
Usually when you want to know whether a product or food joint is halal, you’d rather have actual proof than what the salesperson tells you over the counter. There are multiple kinds of proofs but the most popular (and maybe even the most widely regarded) is a halal certification.
For a product to get that coveted certification, it’s checked against a list of qualifications. So if the food item is anything but what is forbidden in Islam and - in case it’s an animal - has been sacrificed as per religious conventions, it gets a halal certification.
But not every vendor, food joint or supermarket selling halal items can print their certificate and hang them up where everyone can see. One way to manage that problem is that most certifiers also issue a halal stamp. This green logo with halal written on it (either in English or Arabic, or even both) is usually printed on the packaging of the food item.
So it all usually boils down to the people that are performing these checks and issuing halal certifications based on their criteria, and like in most countries, certifiers in the USA are all third-party groups. This is because the United States Department of Agriculture is responsible for food health and safety regulations. Moreover, as a government-run body, it doesn’t get involved in religious matters and that also includes halal processes.
One of the most well-known and prolific of these US halal certifiers is the Islamic Society for the Washington Area (ISWA), but more and more groups are growing as authentic certifiers of halal food being produced in the States. However, the criteria for halal doesn’t generally vary from one group to the next - most, if not all, follow a standard issued by JAKIM (the Department for Islamic Development Malaysia). As such, JAKIM is a global halal standard that the ISWA and other such certifiers are mainly affiliated with.
However, is a halal certification the guarantee that a product is wholly halal? Well, not essentially. There is a growing number of people that point towards the structural and systematic failings of certification bodies. Ali Küçükkarca, a halal slaughter facility owner in the east of the US, believes many institutions that give halal certificates are not reliable. There have also been instances of some shop owners putting up the halal logo on their premises without any approval from certifiers, and this discredits the validity of the stamp for many people. In a similar vein, the organic label isn’t entirely free of controversy either.
While such controversial whispers aren’t exactly what a foodie, much less a halal foodie, would want to hear, there’s very little the rants of a few can do to deter people’s love for healthy, organic and truly halal nutrition. But still, the fallibility of the label begs the question: is there a way to ensure that the food you eat is halal or organic?
There are several ways, and all of them have got to do with building bonds. Some people become patrons of butchers, store owners or restaurateurs who they trust. Others still look towards their local societies and their directories for authentically halal and organic joints (even if they don’t have any certifications). Another, more popular alternative is eateries and shops that serve organic halal products - the knowledge that an animal is slaughtered as per religious conventions and is processed organically gives relief to a lot of folks looking for clean, uncontaminated and healthy halal food.
So when you’re next on the hunt for halal food that’s good for your body and your soul, just go Haloodie. Search for the nearest halal restaurants, vendors and shops in your area with the Haloodie app and have a wholesome and healthy dining experience!
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