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What is Halal Food?

Posted on December 29 2014

What is Halal Food?


Define E Codes. List some of the halal and haram ingredients mentioning their codes.

E codes is a system used in the European Union to indicate an ingredient, which is a food additive.  The ‘E’ indicates that it is a European Union approved additive. The E-codes also clarify whether the additive is halal or haram.  For example, Coloring (E120) and Glazing Agent (E904) are haram.  Coloring contains cochineal and carminic acid/carmines (natural red 4) while Glazing agent contains shellac, a secretion of insects (lac bug).  Antioxidant E300, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) is halal.  E412 Emulsifier, stabilizer, and thickener Guar Gum is also halal.  In addition, E515 Seasoning, potassium sulphate and E517 Improving Agent, Ammonium sulphate are also halal.


 Elaborate the rules and regulations required for halal production in different industries.

Carrion, blood, swine flesh, and animals, which have been slaughtered without reciting the name of Allah are prohibited in Islam. This occurs in situations where the benefit outweighs the harm.  Furthermore, the animal must be halal as well.  Furthermore, in order to consider the meat halal, one must consider the manner in which the halal animal was slaughtered as well as the food, which the animal was fed during its lifetime.  The halal animal must be herbivorous to be halal and the halal animal becomes haram if it consumes haram animal feed.  If these guidelines are not respected, than often times the animal will contain a disease such as mad cow disease, BSE, etc.  In order to make a halal animal that has become haram through animal feed halal again, one must make sure that the animal is put into quarantine before slaughtered to make the animal halal again.  Chickens are required to be quarantined for three days and fed a clean diet, sheep and lamb ten days, and cattle and camel forty days.  The Prophet (pbuh) forbade the eating the meat and drinking the milk of these animals.  Jallalah animals are the ones who eat haram animal feed and have become haram.

The meat industry also injects preservatives such as nitrate into meat.  In addition, the food byproducts of milk may also contain cancer-causing hormones as a result of the use of hormones in cattle.  This is one reason why I personally drink soy, almond, or rice milk as these forms of milk do not contain cancer-causing hormones and preservatives as does cow generated milk.

In Islam, the halal animal should be properly slaughtered and not dipped in boiling water or killed by electric shocks through stunning.  This is due to the fact that when an animal is killed through electric shock, all of the animal’s blood does not leave the animal’s body.  Electric shock affects the central nervous system of the animal and causes injury to the medulla oblongata in the brain, which controls blood circulation and respiration.  It is for this reason that the blood does not completely drain from a stunned animal.  The blood remaining in the body is a source of fermentation and destroys the halal meat quality.  This induces bacteria to grow easily on the meat.  Muslims and Jews are both prohibited from eating stunned meat for similar reasons, however, this is the common practice of killing animals prior to slaughter in Western countries.  Stunning or death through bolt or electric shock is also considered torture and this inhumane treatment is not allowed in Islam.  The Islamic mode of slaughter tends to reduce the suffering of the animal. 

The name of Allah should be recited while slaughtering the animal.  This recitation may be done by a Muslim, Jew, or a Christian in his own language. Slaughtering consists in cutting the jugular veins of the neck and this induces all of the blood to drain from the animal’s body.  The spinal cord must not be cut or the nerve fibers to the heart may be damaged causing cardiac arrest and stagnation of the blood in the blood vessels of the animal.  One should lay the animal on the left flank and point the head of the animal towards the Qibla.  This position is optimal for blood drainage from the body.  It also allows the animal to convulse as oxygen does not reach the brain cells.  The convulsions also work to drain the blood of the animal completely from its body.  Furthermore, proper relaxation of the animal prior to slaughter helps the animal to bleed well at the time of slaughter.  It also builds up muscle glycogen, which lowers the pH (acidity level of the meat) and thereby increases the shelf life of the meat by reducing the chances of microbial growth.  This also improves the taste and tenderness of the meat.

In Islam, halal seafood is permissible.  This includes fish with scales and certain other seafood items.  In order for fish to be halal, it must be removed alive from the water. 

Imam Al-Baqir (a.s.)

[Al-Kulayni, Al-Kafi, Vol.6, p. 219]

no. Halal non-Halal
1 Anchovies Basa 
2 Barramundi Calamari
3 Bass  Catfish Eels
4 Carp / bream Clams
5 Cod / hake Eastern Cleaner- Clingfish 
6 Dory Crab Cray Fish
7 Flathead Flake
8 Flounder Grayfish
9 Herring Leather Jacket
10 Hoki – Blue Grenadier Lobster
11 Jew fish Marlin
12 Kingfish Muscles
13 Ling Octopus
14 Mackerel – except for snake mackerel Oyster
15 Perch Snails
16 Prawns  Snake Mackerels
17 Red fish Squab
18 Salmon  Squid
19 Sardines Shark
20 Shrimp Sturgeons
21 Snapper  Swordfish
22 Tailor  
23 Trevally  
24 Trout – But not including: European turbot (Scophthalmus maximus or Psetta maximus Trevally).  
25 Tuna except for Dogtooth Tuna also known as Peg Tooth Tuna & Scaleless Tuna.  
26 Whitefish  
27 Whiting  
28 Yellow tail  

In terms of Birds, birds are halal when the body is covered with feathers and they are not classes of birds of prey (possessing talons).  There are two other principles by which one can distinguish between halal and haram birds.  A bird, which when in flight glides more than flapping its wings cannot be eaten.  In addition, if a particular bird’s movement is not known, then before eating it one must check for the presence of one of the following: a craw (where grain collects in the throat), a gizzard (part of the stomach), or a projection ( a fork-like extension on the bird’s foot, which performs the function of a talon).  Thus, chickens, turkeys, pigeons, and small birds are permissible to eat.  Even ostriches and peacocks are allowed.  Birds of prey such as eagles, hawks, and vultures are haram.  Furthermore, crows, rooks, and ravens should not be eaten as well.  Other animals that fly, but are not classified as birds are haram including bats, bees, and flying insects.

Confectionary is the set of food items that are rich in sugar, anyone or type, which is referred to as a confection.  Often, confectionary consists of artificial sweeteners as well.  Confectionaries are low in nutritional value and high in calories. 

Other areas of halal manufacturing, which require more attention include halal cosmetics and medicines.  Cosmetics and medicines are mainly produced in non-Muslim countries.  Special attention is required to produce more halal cosmetic and medicinal products.  In fact, there does not currently exist a certification program for halal medicine.  In reality, Islam encourages healing without the use of chemical and pharmaceutically engineered medicine as the main motive of the pharmaceutical company is profit and not your health.  Allah hath provided a natural cure for every disease.

In terms of milk and dairy products, yogurt and yogurt products must not contain gelatin, unless it is gelatin produced from a halal slaughtered animal.  In regards to cheese, many types of cheese contain rennet and other enzymes that are derived from animals.  It is important to verify that these are derived from halal-approved animals or from microbial or plant sources.  In terms of bakery products, the ingredients should be verified for halal status i.e. the use of lard etc.  Also, gelatin may be used as a glaze component on doughnuts, strudels, cakes, and pastries.  Only two types of gelatin are halal being beef gelatin from halal-slaughtered animals and fish gelatin.  In addition, mono and di-glyceride emulsifiers are also used in the baking industry and candy products.  The only acceptable sources of emulsifiers for halal foods include vegetable mono and di-glycerides.  Polysorbates of different molecular sizes, sodium stearyl lactylate, and other specific use emulsifiers are questionable due to their sources.  It is best to avoid all animal derived emulsifiers.  Nutritional supplements in capsules should also be verified.  Soft gel capsules are one-piece capsules made from gelatin.  They can also be produced with vegetable ingredients such as modified starch, cellulose gum, and other plant gums.  Halal certified bovine and fish gelatin is also available for this purpose.  Two-piece hard gel capsules are generally made with gelatin.  However, now vegetarian capsules are becoming more popular and can be made from modified cellulose, modified starches, and other plant materials.


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