What is halal and why need an audit checklist?
“Halal” means “permitted,” in contrast to “haram,” which is forbidden. In general, if the Quran or Hadith doesn’t explicitly forbid something, then it’s considered halal. This doesn’t simply apply to food, but to all products and practices an observant Muslim uses throughout their day. It includes medicines and medical devices, as well as cosmetics and toiletries. It also includes services such as marketing, packaging, branding, logistics, and finance. Loaning money at interest is haram, for instance.
It can be difficult to know what products are properly halal. For instance, M&M’s candies are haram. A halal audit checklist can help you keep everything in a clean and wholesome state. Observant Muslims want to make sure that everything they consume is “Halalan Toyyiban,” or permissible and wholesome. Products are certified halal by different certification agencies, which check to make sure that only permissible products and personnel come into contact with the items to be certified.
In this article, the following points are explained:
Get part of the halal food market with reliable audits
The halal industry is one of the biggest and fastest-growing in the world today. As of March 2020, it’s worth an estimated $2.3 trillion globally (not counting Islamic finance) and growing at a rate of 20% per year. Considering that Muslims make up about 28.26% of the world population (2.8 billion people), the halal industry will only get bigger with time.
The global halal food market by itself is growing at an estimated 8.14% every year. In fact, Muslims are underserved in many countries. In the United States, Muslims spend an estimated $16 billion a year buying kosher products because they can’t get properly-certified halal food.
A halal audit checklist can help your company navigate the complexity of halal requirements and get ready for a visit from a halal certification agency. There are three levels of halal certification.
A product may be certified as halal; for instance, a halal sausage could be sold at the supermarket alongside all the other sausages.
Factories and production facilities may be certified so that things produced there are halal. The entire premises don’t need to be certified – only a certain portion of the facility might be certified halal. Or the facility might be brought up to halal standards only on certain days. To do this, all smell, taste, and color of potentially haram objects must be removed from all the equipment and surfaces. An internal halal audit checklist can be beneficial here.
Retail premises can also be certified halal, so that everything made and sold there is halal.
What things are haram and must be kept away from halal premises?
There can be some disagreement as to whether a product is halal or not. For instance, some scholars consider shellac haram since it comes from insect secretion. Others consider it halal since all traces of insect matter is removed before the shellac is used. On the other hand, the popular coloring natural red 4, or E120, is always haram since it’s made from insects.
Keeping your premises in a purified halal state is an ongoing process. You need to document and record your sanitation processes and prevent cross-contamination, which might come from seemingly innocuous sources. A halal audit checklist is a helpful tool to help you find non-compliant items and take action to remove them.
Here is a partial list of haram items:
- Pigs and pig-derived products
- Dogs (including their saliva)
- Products derived from humans
- Carnivorous animals
- Animals not properly slaughtered according to Islamic law
- Intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs
- Filth such as urine, excrement, vomit, blood, pus etc.
Halal Islamic slaughter of animals is called zabiha. Zabiha must be performed by a sane adult Muslim in good standing, who says a prayer to God before the act. A very sharp knife is used to make one quick cut to the animal’s throat so that it falls unconscious in seconds and dies quickly from hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain).
Many of the zabiha rules have to do with making sure that the animal is spared as much pain and stress as possible. For instance, you have to make sure it can’t see any other animals that are being slaughtered. It should be in a comfortable position when it’s slaughtered, and it should have been well-treated beforehand, too. If an animal is not slaughtered according to zabiha, it’s not halal.
Anything derived from haram items is also haram. For instance, most gelatin is haram since it’s often made with pork products. Cheese can be haram if it’s coagulated with enzymes made from improperly slaughtered animals. A halal audit checklist can be invaluable here since it’s challenging to remember all the potentially haram products on your own.
Who determines what should be on the halal audit checklist?
In Muslim-majority countries, a government agency usually handles halal certification. In other countries, it’s carried out by Muslim organizations. In the United States, these include:
- Islamic Society of the Washington Area (ISWA)
- Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America
- Islamic Services of America
- The Islamic Society of North America’s Halal Certification Agency
- Halal Food Council International
- IS EG Halal
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not do halal certification, since it’s considered a religious matter. However, “halal” is a legal term. If a company claims to be halal or puts “halal” on the label of its products, it must be certified by a third-party certification agency. An internal halal audit checklist can help you prepare for inspection by the certification agency and rectify any issues that they might find.
Different Muslim countries may have rules about which organization’s certification they will accept. For instance, all food products to be exported to Egypt must be certified by IS EG Halal. If your company exports products to different countries, a halal audit checklist can also be helpful here.
A digital tool for halal food certification
Getting a halal food certification is a tough job, but well worth it. Many companies traditionally work with paper-based halal audit checklists. A process that presents some problems. Paper is prone to loss, destruction and poorly completed list. It also makes documentation difficult. Finding the right information at the appropriate time is nearly impossible.
With a digital tool, like Lumiform, you can work around these issues. The digital app for audits and inspections gives you the ability to digitize all your paper documents. This makes it easier for quality and safety managers to monitor and continuously document halal-compliant processes. This helps to reliably prepare for halal certification. They can also use the mobile app and desktop software:
- Create checklists for halal audits and food inspections with our intuitive form builder.
- Take photos of violations found and assign corrective actions immediately.
- Assign corrective actions from the app and track their status.
- Comply with regulations by scheduling internal audits with the app and have it notify them of inspections not performed.
- Save time and reduce costs by creating automated reports after each audit that you can send immediately.
- Analyze internal audit results to determine readiness for halal certification.
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