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When is a product "Halal"?

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There are no uniform standards, when a product can be called „halal“. Seldom it is clear what criteria underlie.

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In the EU, the term "Halal" is food legally not protected.
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"Halal" means something such as "pure", "permitted" and, furthermore, the commandments which include things and actions, that are permitted and islam-conform from an islamic point of view.

This includes certain dietary rules and foodstuffs, like the meat of herbivores (chicken, beef, sheep), that were slaughtered according to certain regulations (so-called Schächtung)

  • Fresh milk
  • Fresh fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Herbal oils

As opposed to this, prohibited or inadmissible food is called „haram“. These are typical

  • pork or products with ist components, like onion tart with bacon, buns with ground pork,
  • Gelatine, derived from pork raw material and foods made with this, like yoghurt, cakes and jelly bears etc.
  • Alcohol and foods containing alcohol, e.g. ice and pralines (also in traces or or hidden as carrier material such as aromas or dyes).
  • Food that contains blood, like blutwurst

For fruit juice, gelatine is often used

The purification of juice with the help of gelatine is a problematic production process – even if it does not remain in the final product or just a low amount.

The islamic sources of law (Quran and Sunna) describe „Halal“ and „Haram“ and some others dietary rules more specific, without making a clear classification for „Halal“-products. If food can be categorized as „halal“ depends on several criterias, which are differently interpreted by islamic jurisconsults. There are no lists of foods that are valid for all Muslims and that are expressly considered "Halal".

No unified certifications

In the EU the term „Halal“ is food legally not protected. For „halal“-products there are no unified standards, which will be checked during a certification. Therefore a lot of several „halal“-seals exist, which are established by traditional or fabricator oriented certifiers.

For consumers is is seldom clear, how these differ or rather what criterias underlie. While some certifiers seal meat as „halal“ when a short-term electric anaesthesia or captive bolt gun was used, others take the the non anaesthetised „Schächtung“ as a basis.

A „halal“-certification is not only oriented on the ingredients or a specific kind of slaughter, but also checks the compliance of halal-regulations in the production process, e.g. the cleansing and maintenance of the installation with appropriate tools (without alcohol and inadmissable fats). Furthermore, important according to the ethic of the Quran is it whether animals originate from factory farming or if they had to suffer while being slaughtered.

This way even meat of allowed animals can be „haram“, when the animals were not held, fed and slaughtered halal-conform.

Meat consumers decide not only regarding to the wallet and the quality of the dish.

With their buying behaviour they affect amongst others things the husbandry and feeding of the animals.

In a separate article we explain the legal standards and what seals state about bio-quality and animal welfare.

 

Video: Halal

Slaughtering prohibited

The „Schächten“ (slaughtering without anaesthetization) of animals is basically forbidden in Germany – an exemption is only given under strict conditions. Therefore halal-salughtering is made almost only with anaesthetization.

The import of animals, that were slaughterd („geschächtet“) is permitted – there is no EU-wide regulation. Meat of animals killed in the tradition of „Schächtung“ need not to be marked.

Ask the producer!

Common questions are questions about the production, food additives or ingredients like alcohol or gelatine, for example:

  • Is the emulsifier „mono- and diglycerides from fatty acids“ suitable for muslims?
  • What juices are not treated with porcine gelatin?
  • What food additives (flavours, colourings etc.) are made with the help of alcohol?

In most cases it is only possible to speculate here, for example with emulsifiers, which are rather made out of vegetable fats, because these are cheaper to buy on the world market.

In the end, if further information is desired, we can only refer you to the respective producer. Muslims buy their „halal“-meat preferably at ethnic supermarkets, on regional slaughterhouses or directly at the farmer.