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Guide to Understanding Halal Foods
Assalamualikum, May you and your family in the best of Emaan and the best of Health,Inshaallah.
Below you will find several questions and answers to assist you when planning and serving meals, snacks or refreshments for the Muslim community. This resource is intended to provide you with more information about Halal Foods in addition to the Guide to Understanding Halal Foods.
Question: What are mono and diglycerides and are they Halal?
Answer: Mono and diglycerides are types of fat that are used to prevent water and oil from separating. They are found in a wide variety of products including baked foods, peanut butter, margarine, and shortening. Mono and diglycerides come from animal or vegetable sources. When they come from vegetable sources, they are Halal. When they come from animal sources, they may be Haram. More information is needed to find out if they are Halal. If the mono and diglycerides come from an animal that is slaughtered according to Islamic law (Zabihah), and the preparation that follows is Halal, then they are Halal. Halal consumers should avoid products containing mono and diglycerides unless they are labelled as 100% vegetable mono and diglycerides.
Question: What is animal shortening?
Answer: Shortening is a type of fat that is solid at room temperature, and is used for making many baked foods. Animal shortening, such as lard, must be avoided. Pure vegetable shortening is Halal.
Question: Why are pure and artificial vanilla Haram?
Answer: Vanilla is a plant product, however, it is taken from the vanilla bean using alcohol. Vanilla is available in powder or liquid form. If you look at a bottle of liquid pure or artificial vanilla extract, you will find alcohol listed as an ingredient, along with the percentage of alcohol it contains. Some people may feel it is okay to use baked products containing vanilla extract because the alcohol evaporates during the baking process. However, studies have shown that the alcohol does not completely evaporate during baking. Vanilla is also available in a powdered form. In this form, the beans are either crushed without the addition of alcohol, or they are crushed and dissolved in alcohol and then purified. During purification, the alcohol is removed. Powdered vanilla is Halal. For specific products, the label will only list vanilla or vanilla flavouring. In such cases, contact the manufacturer of the product to determine which form of vanilla was used.
Question: What is Gelatin?
Answer: Gelatin is a protein product obtained from pigs, cattle, and fish. The main sources of gelatin include pigskins, cattle bones and cattle hide. Of these, the most common source is pigskins. Gelatin is used in the preparation of some baked goods, ice cream, yogourt, jellies and other food products. If the word gelatin appears on a label, it is usually made from pigskins and cattle bones, so it is Haram. It is possible to produce Halal gelatin by using the bones and hides of cattle slaughtered according to Islamic Law. In this case, the gelatin would be certified Halal and labeled as Halal gelatin. Gelatin made from any fish is Halal.
Question: Are the foods made with rennet Halal?
Answer: Rennet comes from the stomach of a young cow (calf). If the calf was slaughtered according to Islamic requirements, the rennet is Halal. Check for the Halal symbol or call the food manufacturer to determine if the cattle were slaughtered according to Islamic Dietary Law.
Question: What is lecithin and is it a concern for Halal foods?
Answer: Lecithin is used to prevent oil and water from separating. It is found in plants such as soybeans, as well as egg yolks and other animal sources. If lecithin is derived from plants, egg yolks or Halal animals slaughtered according to Islamic Law, it is Halal. Most lecithin is made from soybeans, however, it is possible that some may come from animal sources. Unless the ingredient label specifically lists "soy lecithin" or "vegetable lecithin", call the food manufacturer to determine the source of the lecithin.
Question: Are all cheese Halal?
Answer: Ingredients called enzymes are needed to make cheese. Three enzymes used to make cheese are pepsin, lipase and rennet. These enzymes can be from animal, vegetable or microbial sources. Animal sources include pigs and cattle. Pepsin is derived from pigs, and is Haram. Lipase derived from pigs or cattle are Haram. Lipase from cattle slaughtered according to Islamic requirements or lipase produced by micro-organisms is Halal. Rennet is derived from the stomach of calves. If the calf was slaughtered according to Islamic requirements, the rennet is Halal. Microbial enzymes are not derived from meat and are Halal. Cheese products manufactured with microbial/bacterial cultures are Halal. Most cheese products do not list the source of the enzyme. Call the food manufacturer to find out the source of the enzyme. In addition, it is possible that the source may change without notification.
Question: Is whey Halal?
Answer: Whey is the watery part of milk that is separated from the curd in cheesemaking. The enzyme most commonly used to make cheese is rennet, which comes from the stomach of calves. The rennet is Halal if the calf was slaughtered according to Islamic requirements. Whey prepared with microbial enzymes is Halal. Whey is used in processed foods such as crackers. Call the food manufacturer to determine the source of the whey.
Question: Can Muslims eat Kosher foods?
Answer: Halal and Kosher foods are not similar. Here is an excerpt from Eat-Halal.com "Kosher is from the Hebrew word kasher, which means, "fit" and "proper". The term is usually used for food that Jews are permitted to eat under dietary laws that are derived from passages in the biblical books. Some elements of Jewish and Islamic dietary laws are common, while some are not". Therefore, not all Kosher foods are Halal for Muslims. Here are a few differences:
Permitted except fish that do not have fins and scales (e.g. catfish, eels, rays, sharks, swordfish). Shellfish (e.g. oyster, clam), crustaceans (e.g. crab, lobster), and mollusks (e.g. scallops) are not permitted.
Blessing on each animal while slaughtering.
Question: What is the usual meal pattern for a family who follows Halal (e.g. some people pray at 4 a.m and eat food at that time, but do not consider it as a part of their diet and may not mention it during a 24 hour dietary recall)?
Answer: Muslims believe that eating is part of worship, good health and survival. Overeating and self -indulgence is not permitted. The dietary pattern varies from one culture to another, but three meals a day is the standard practice. Prayer times change with seasons and with time of the year. In winter for example, people can pray between 6 to 7 am, while in the summer months it can be as early as 4:30 am. To eat at this time of the morning is a matter of personal choice. Encourage Muslims to report all foods eaten within a 24 hour period for the purpose of a dietary recall.
Question: What should we be aware of when buying food or planning food demos for Canada Prenatal Nutrition Programs, Student Nutrition program or providing refreshments for workshops?
Answer: When buying or serving Halal foods, it is very important to know which ingredients to avoid. Give special consideration to foods like cheese, cheese flavour chips, cakes, cookies, French fries, candies, soups (may contain meat), sauce (may contain meat), margarine, yogourt etc. Remember to check the label for questionable food ingredients. If you are not sure about a product, call the food manufacturer.
Question: Are all Halal stores reliable?
Answer: There are many Halal stores in the city. There are also other grocery stores that sell Halal products. For food products such as cheese, yogourt, baked products, etc., it’s very important to be familiar with the ingredients to avoid. You can buy these products in any grocery store as long as you give special attention to the ingredient list. Meat products (meat and poultry), however, must be certified as Halal. This means that the product must originate from a Halal certified slaughterhouse and carry the Halal symbol. Zabihah is sometimes written on the product. Whether you buy these products from a Halal store or the regular grocery store, these symbols should visible on meat and meat products.
Reminder for all muslim in the world
Resource from Toronto Health -USA
Q.S. Al 'An'am [The Cattle : 162]
Say : "Indeed, my prayer, my rites of sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the universe."