Food Safety & Health

 

*The dietary restrictions of Islam are easy to observe and apply. Some foods are simply forbidden including: meats derived from dead carrion; animals strangled, beaten or killed in cruel manner, falling from a height, or killed by being gored by a horn of another animal or killed and eaten by another beast; all flowing blood, meat which is derived from animals sacrificed to or killed in the name of any god other than Allah, all pork and swine and any kind of alcoholic drink (Khamr) or intoxicating drugs including all wine, spirits, beer or any other intoxicant. Islam permits alcohol to be used as a medical and chemical agent, such as using an alcohol swab to clean a wound or used in chemical reactions without leaving traces in the final products, but it is never permitted as a food or drink if it persists in the final food/drink product at more than 1% in volume. There should be a distinction in terminology between khamr/alchoholic drinks (not permitted to consume) and alcohol (a chemical agent permitted to be used in the industry). Intoxicants of all kinds bear a special place in Islamic law. The Quran states that Satan uses them to sow discord among men, and it ranks them with gambling and divination as particularly vile crimes.

 

 

*An important aspect of Halal food is also being wholesome and healthy for people to consume, since Islamic religion looks after the health and well being of people as well as their religious and cultural beliefs and practices. The processing of Halal food should be an integrated process from Farm to Fork, where every step is considered a weak link in the chain until it is corrected (Haraam Critical Control Points – HCCP) to produce not only food that is ritually blessed but also wholesome and healthy (Halalan Tayyiban). Please read the section about the Criteria for Inspection of a Food Service Facility in the World Halal Standards and read the guidelines below.

 

 

Food Handling Guidelines:

 

Whether dining outside the home in a restaurant or shopping for food at the grocery store, one should observe these general guidelines:

  • Always wash hands with soap before cooking or eating. Licking fingers and utensils while preparing foods are very bad habits.

  • In eating at a restaurant ask for Halal certification, check food contents, and watch how food preparers and servers handle the food.

  • Do not mix or make contact between raw meat or poultry with any ready to eat food item.

  • When buying meat items from an individual or an outlet make sure that the meat has been inspected by a health inspection authority, such as USDA, or at least a local health inspector. Even though consumers purchase meats or poultry for their own uses, State laws prohibit the sale of non inspected meats to others and Federal laws prohibit transportation of uninspected meats  across states lines.

  • Always check the list of ingredients when buying a package of food or other consumable goods. Some of the items may seem Halal, however, the method of producing them may involve and contain non Halal ingredients. If you cannot determine the Halalness of an item refer to the lists of food ingredients published in a trusted Islamic reference or a website dealing with food ingredients.

  • Watch for allergens that may be contained in the food such as: nuts, soy, gluten, milk (lactose), cocoa, shellfish, etc.

  • Buy only Halal labeled/ stamped food from the store. Bearing Arabic wording on the packages without stating clearly it has been produced according to Islamic Rites does not make the product automatically Halal.

  • Some products may appear to be Halal, such as canned seafood, pre-packaged salads, marshmallows, salad dressings, frozen pizza, French fries, etc. when they might be mixed or cooked with other Haram or suspicious ingredients such as unknown sauces, bacon bits, pork gelatin, animal shortening or even lard.

  • Watch for other contents of the packaged food such as dietary requirements, nutrition facts and calories content. The quantities of food one consumes is also  as important as the type ingested. Not indulging in over eating,  conserving natural resources and not wasting food is a way of following the traditions of Prophet Mohammad, PBUH.

  • Always check the Safe Handling, Cooking Directions, Storage, Expiration or use -by Dates when preparing foods from pre-packaged items.

  • Avoid consuming preservatives in food. When opening a can try to discard the preservative solution if possible.  Also avoid using baby bottles which are lined with the chemical BPA (BiPhenyl Amines).

  • Try not to over cook or burn the meat and eat less cured meat, since it is found that burned meats such as in BBQ and the meat in sausages and jerky, are known to contain carcinogenic compounds such as  Acrylic compounds and Dioxin. Try to cook your meat medium or medium well.

  • Be selective in the food that you eat and eat less of it. The Prophet, PBUH advised us to fill one third of the stomach with food, one third for water and one third for air. Over indulgence and wasting food and other resources are not favorable Islamic characteristics.

  • Say a prayer at the time of meals to thank the Creator, so He may put Barakah (blessings) in the food and in your health.

 

 

Note:

 

HTO works only with plants/factories that are under the inspection of USDA/FDA health officials and only certify products that have been inspected and approved for human consumption/use. Even though safety and wholesomeness of foods are integral aspects of being Halal, Halal certification does not necessarily guarantee the safety of the product or make claims about its health attributes in any shape it is prepared or used. In food processing plants, the Halal certifying agency can watch and check for food safety signs but cannot compete with the professional jobs assigned to the health inspectors. Inspecting the safety and health of food products lies in the hands of the government inspectors and scientists such as those of USDA, FDA, nutritionists in the US and similar health agencies in other countries. At the end, the consumer is the determining factor in consuming safe and healthy food by: selecting the right food stuff, checking the labeling on the packages (ingredients, allergens, expiration dates, food safety and handling instructions…), and by proper handling of food at home and at the food service facilities.

Al-Aqsa Mosque

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