Halal certification for a food production facility, food product or slaughterhouse means an independent organization has performed an inspection and found that the people, practices and products adhere to Islamic dietary laws. Foods that are halal certified are usually permitted to use a specific seal or stamp to indicate that it was independently inspected. There are hundreds of organizations around the world that offer certification services, though the exact definition of what is halal is not always the same beyond certain core laws. These differences mean that what might be considered halal for one organization is not for another, leaving consumers of halal certified foods to do their own research on what a particular company considers halal.
The lack of a single organization that provides a unified set of rules for determining what should be halal certified means the process varies from one organization to the next. All certifications require a physical inspection of the facility in question. During this initial visit, many aspects of production are examined to see whether they follow strict Islamic laws. The most important laws are that ingredients are segregated from non-halal products, that they are handled in a permissible way, and that no forbidden products are being used.
After the initial inspection, some companies will go a step further and begin to qualify any imported or processed ingredients to ensure that they also can be halal certified. This involves determining that no product used in the production of the food has any forbidden ingredients in it. The process can take some time, especially in cases where ingredients come from different countries around the world.
If the process and the ingredients are all found to be halal, then the facility can use a stamp or seal that indicates it is halal certified. This can make it easier for consumers who are leading a halal lifestyle to find products that are permissible. Some organizations only inspect the facilities once, while others require regular inspections every few months or every year. A few rare certification organizations actually have inspectors oversee production several times a week, if not on a daily basis.
A different way of testing whether food should be halal certified involves chemical analysis of the products. This technique is used when items are being imported after production. The basic concept is to take samples of the product and test them chemically for the presence of different types of forbidden ingredients. If the food passes the tests, then it is halal certified; if it does not pass the tests, it is considered haram, or forbidden. This form of certification is not always accepted, because it can miss some handling issues and, if the food is deemed haram, then it still may find its way onto store shelves and might be purchased by someone thinking it is halal.