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What Is the Halal Certification Authority?

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  • Written By: J.E. Holloway
  • Edited By: M. C. Hughes
  • Images By: Mikey, Egypix
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
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The halal certification authority is the body responsible for monitoring the food products in a region that qualify as halal. "Halal," which means "permissible," refers to food meeting the criteria of Muslim dietary law. In order to be halal, food must be prepared under strictly regulated conditions. The halal certification authority is responsible for ensuring that manufacturers meet these conditions and labeling foods that meet halal requirements.

Islam's dietary laws forbid a range of foodstuffs, including alcohol, the meat of predatory animals, meat from animals that died of natural causes, meat offered to gods other than Allah, blood and blood products, and pork. These products are "haraam," or forbidden, and careful food hygiene practices are used to prevent cross-contamination with halal food. Islamic dietary law also establishes rules governing food preparation. In particular, in order to be halal, animals must be slaughtered according to traditional methods that ensure no blood remains in the body. Some schools of thought hold that only animals slaughtered by Muslims can be considered halal, while others argue that the Quran permits Muslims to eat food "of the people of the Book," so meat from animals slaughtered by Christians or Jews is also acceptable.

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For observant Muslims, buying prepared food can sometimes be a challenge. Fruits and vegetables usually present no difficulty, but it is not always easy to tell whether other products are halal. Muslim consumers generally want to avoid inadvertently consuming food which is haraam, even though Islam teaches that consuming haraam food inadvertently or from necessity is not a sin. For example, some gelatin products contain pork, while others contain fish-based or artificial gelatin, but most consumers would not pause to wonder whether a packet of gummy sweets contained pork. A halal certification authority solves this problem by clearly labeling food packages or providing signs for restaurants that allow consumers to know that the authority has verified the halal status of the food.

Any country or region with a high Muslim population is likely to have a halal certification authority, or even — since there is no central authority to establish such bodies — several. These can go by many different names. Australia's main authority is simply called the Halal Certification Authority Australia, whereas Islamic Services of America, founded in the 1970s, is an equivalent body in the United States. Similar bodies exist in other countries throughout the world. Halal certification authorities often recognize the certification of other authorities, promoting international trade in halal food products.

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