Halal is a term that refers to a dietary lifestyle with central principles that are primarily based on the religion of Islam. Those who follow the religion of Islam are known as Muslims, and may live their lives according to Islamic teachings that guide their everyday activities, such as eating. There are two primary categories of foods in Islamic dietary laws: haraam, which refers to forbidden foods, and halal, which refers to foods that are considered good. A halal bakery is an establishment selling desserts and other baked goods, all of which are prepared according to the Islamic halal dietary laws set forth in the Qur’an, the sacred book of teachings for Muslims.
One of the fundamental principles of a halal diet is only consuming foods that are not forbidden in the teachings of Islam. A food is generally considered to be halal if it does not contain pork, alcohol, insects, meat from a carnivorous animal, such as a dog or tiger, or a bird of prey, such as an eagle, or insects. Other meat and poultry is usually permitted if it is slaughtered according to Islamic law, which requires the animal to be alive and blessed in the name of the Islamic God, Allah, before being slaughtered. Islam law also dictates that the animal must be slaughtered in such a way as to have all of its blood removed.
Followers of Islamic are also not permitted to consume any processed foods that contain byproducts of forbidden foods. Certain food additives, such as those intended to preserve texture, add color, or increase the shelf life of an item, are often derived from forbidden items, even though it may not necessarily be obvious to a consumer. A halal bakery prepares and sells baked goods that do not contain any additives that are byproducts of forbidden items. Common examples of additives with forbidden byproducts include flavored extracts, which contain a small percentage of alcohol, and certain food colorings which are derived from insects.
A bakery typically is required to go through a certification process before it can be officially promoted as a halal bakery. Certification may be rewarded by Islamic-based agencies, which can generally be found in the majority of areas with high Islamic populations. In order to be considered halal, a bakery will usually have its products analyzed by halal investigators to ensure the baked goods only contain permitted food items. If a bakery uses an ingredient that has an unknown origin, such as an animal byproduct in which it cannot be determined if slaughtering was performed properly, investigators may opt to not allow for halal bakery certification.