Author: Faheema Mahomed Ali
Date: 22 August 2022
The food industry has rapidly been evolving and has experienced exponential growth in recent times. A large increase in world population initiated the development of original and innovative ways to keep up with the demand for food. Furthermore, socio-economic changes, competition within the food industry and exposure to diverse culinary cultures are all factors contributing to the growth of the food industry. This led to major advancements in food processing. The evolution of the food industry has also seen an evolution in the consciousness of the Muslim consumer.
As a Muslim consumer, one needs to be aware of the different food manufacturing and preservation techniques, and several food additives. Determining whether an item is Halaal or not can be a daunting prospect for the general Muslim consumer.
Almost all processed food items have either preservatives, enzymes or flavour enhancements. It is clear that if a substance is produced from a source/raw material that is Haraam (unlawful) then the end product will be considered Haraam. There are however, instances where an item is considered Halaal after it has gone through a chemical change. A well-known example is the production of Vinegar. Vinegar is produced when ethyl alcohol (which is intoxicating) is oxidised and becomes acetic acid (vinegar). The ethyl alcohol naturally undergoes a complete chemical transformation which no longer makes it intoxicating and therefore Halaal.
As Muslim consumers, it would be almost impossible to ascertain if something is permissible or impermissible with our own limited knowledge and we continue to rely on certification bodies to guide us when choosing permissible items used in our daily lives.
Halaal certification allows Muslim consumers to use and consume products with the peace of mind that product has undergone rigorous tests and audits. Halaal certification bodies use the expertise of scientists, food technologists and the ulema, and consider raw materials, processing techniques and final packaging. This ensures that the product you eat, as a Muslim consumer, is free from contamination from any unlawful sources throughout the food production process.