The Basics of Halal Food

27 May 2020

According to EuroMonitor International, The Muslim religion is the second largest and fastest growing religion in the world, with Muslim consumers expected to reach 26 percent of the global population by 2030. This means halal food spending will be spurred not only by the rapid population growth but also by younger demographics as the average age of a Muslim is 24 years old compared to non-Muslims’ 32 years old. 

Halal is an Arabic word with the meaning of “permissible” or “lawful”. In terms of food, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law, as prescribed in the Qur’an (the Muslim scripture). The opposite of halal is haram, which means unlawful or prohibited. 

Halal and haram are terms that are universally applicable in all facets of life. They are commonly used with food products, meat products, cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, and food contact materials. 

Islamic Halal Meat Preparation and Supervision  

For a meat to be certified as halal, it cannot be from a forbidden cut such as meat from hindquarters, or from forbidden animals such as pork. The animals have to be alive and healthy at the time of slaughter as well and have all the blood drained from the carcass. 

The process is referred to as zabiha or dhabiha, in which a muslim will recite a dedication known as tasmiya or shahada. Some of the guidelines they will follow are: 

  • Allah’s (God’s) name must be pronounced during the slaughtering
  • The instrument (usually a knife) must be very sharp to ensure humane slaughter where the animal is slit at the throat
  • The knife must not be sharpened in the animal’s presence 
  • The animal must not see other animals being killed 
  • The animal must be well treated before being killed 
  • The animal must be hung upside down and allowed to bleed dry. Eating blood is not halal
  • These steps must be accomplished by a Muslim 
  • The animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products 

Life is sacred  

The way an animal’s life ends is linked closely to Islamic ideology as they believe that life is a sacred blessing of God to creation including humans as well as animals. If an animal has to die for human survival, then it should be taken in the name of God. Muslims are not allowed to eat any other animals that are sacrificed in a name other than God. Otherwise, it will be considered as haram and not permissible to be consumed. 

Is it different from kosher meat?  

Kosher food adheres to the Jewish dietary law (kashrut), which governs what they can or cannot eat for those practising the faith. Similar to the Islamic way of slaughter, both require the use of a surgically sharp knife and are specially-trained slaughtermen. While Halal forbids the consumption of some carcass parts including the testicles and bladder, Kashrut forbids the consumption of certain parts of the carcass including the sciatic nerve and particular fats. Jewish law strictly forbids the use of stunning and meats that are not blessed in the same way. 

Unlike halal preparation, kashrut does not require God’s name to be mentioned before every slaughter after an initial blessing. 

In Singapore, the hahal certifying body, Majelis Ugama Islam (MUIS) serves the country’s Muslim population. Its halal certification is “an independent testimony that a food / product is prepared, processed, stored and handled in a manner that is suitable for Muslims”. 

Type of halal certification schemes 

MUIS offers seven types of halal certification schemes to suit the different categories of the food related industry.

Eating establishment scheme: issued to retail food establishments including restaurants, school canteens, bakeries, confectionaries, and temporary stalls in bazaars

Endorsement scheme: issued to imported or exported products

Food preparation area scheme: issued to catering establishments and central kitchen facilities

Poultry abattoir scheme: issued to poultry abattoirs for freshly slaughtered poultry

Product scheme: issued to products which are manufactured or partly manufactured in Singapore 

Storage facility scheme: issued to stationary and mobile storage facilities i.e. warehouses

Whole plant scheme: issued to manufacturing facilities

As we all know by now, many regulations are set in place to ensure that halal food is properly certified and safe to consume for our Singaporean Muslims. As such if you are planning on ordering halal corporate catering in Singapore, it is important to check with your colleagues if anyone requires halal food to be catered as well. 

At How’s Catering, we are Halal-certified caterers since 2005 and are more than qualified to prepare amazing dishes that are appropriate for everyone to enjoy. This includes a wide range of services including preparing catering menus for corporate events, halal wedding catering, festive occasions, buffets, high tea, and kids/thematic. If you’re keen on finding out more about our menu or customisation options, feel free to contact us at +65 6852 2852 or email today! 

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