According to the Koran, the sacred text of the Muslim religion, food is considered to be “Halal” – meaning fit for consumption – when it has been obtained in accordance with the rules and norms laid down in the Sacred Koran and Islamic Jurisprudence. These foods may not contain prohibited ingredients, not even part of them.
Sharia prohibits the consumption of any type of food that has been genetically modified, and also mineral and chemical products that cause danger to health.
Fish and other aquatic animals are permitted provided they do not fall into any of the categories mentioned above. Animals that live both on land and in the water, such as crocodiles, are banned. Products of vegetable origin are considered Halal provided they have no hallucinogenic effect and do not cause intoxication or danger to the health of those who consume them.
For meat products, slaughter must follow procedures of the Halal rite. Slaughter is not permitted of animals such as pigs, dogs and the like, animals with incisor teeth (tigers, elephants and monkeys, among others), pests (rats, centipedes, scorpions), birds of prey and other repulsive creatures. According to the requirements of the Embassies of Islamic countries, Halal slaughter must take place separated from non-Halal slaughter. It must be carried out by a Muslim who is mentally sane and knows the fundamental requirements of animal slaughter within Islam.
The basic rules to be followed for Halal slaughter are:
- Only healthy animals, approved by the sanitary authorities and in perfect physical condition, shall be slaughtered;
- he phrase “In the name of Ala, the most generous, the most merciful, must be spoken before the slaughter;
- Equipment and utensils to be used must be appropriate for Halal slaughter. The knife must be well sharpened, to allow a single bleeding that minimizes the suffering of the animal;
- The cut must sever the trachea, the esophagus, arteries and the jugular vein so that all the animal’s blood flows out and the animal dies without suffering;
- Muslim inspectors shall accompany all the slaughter, because they are the ones responsible for verifying the procedures laid down by Sharia.
It should be emphasized that Halal slaughter and processing aim to produce safe products that bring benefits to the health of those who consume them. Thus, hygiene and good sanitary conditions are essential prerequisites for slaughterhouse employees and for their clothing, equipment and utensils used in the process, thus avoiding contamination with non-Halal substances.
It is for this reason that all preparations, processing, conditioning, storage and transportation must be exclusively for Halal products, which shall be necessarily certified and label according to Sharia law.
The label must contain the name of the product, the SIF number, the name and address of the maker, importer or distributor, the brand of the factory, ingredients, identifying code number and date, stamp or label for Halal identification and country of origin.
In the case of primary meat products, the lable must also contain the date of slaughter, production and processing.
“Kosher” is the definition given to foods prepared in accordance with Jewish Law as relating to foodstuffs. The Torah requires that beef cattle and chickens be slaughtered in accordance with these laws, in a ritual called Shechita. Only a trained person called a Shochet may perform the ritual, before which a special prayer called Beracha must be uttered.
The aim of the ritual is to slit the throat of the animal while still alive, and so provoke instantaneous and painless death. The cut must be made with a specially sharpened knife and sever the trachea, the esophagus and the principal veins and arteries of the neck, so provoking massive bleeding. After slaughter, an inspector verifies the internal organs of the animal to spot any signs of physiological abnormality that would render the meat non-Kosher.
These days the entire Kosher process, including salting, is carried out in the meat packer’s establishment under the supervision of a rabbi, who guarantees that the food is Kosher. Products also carry a seal certifying that the entire process for production of the foodstuff was in compliance with the Torah.