Malaysian Halal Consultation and Training

“HALAL” Frequently Asked Questions

Q (Question), A (Answer), E (Elaboration)


Q: What is the definition of Halal food?

A: Halal is a Quranic term which means allowed, lawful or permitted. Halal foods and drinks are permitted for consumption and obligatory on every Muslim.

E: In Islam, Halal means 'lawful' or 'permitted' and refers to all matters of life, not just food. The opposite of Halal is Non-Halal (Haram), which means unlawful or prohibited. So Halal and Haram are universal terms that apply to all facets of life. However, we will use these terms only in relation to food products, meat products, cosmetics, personal care products, food ingredients, and food contact materials.


Q: Are all meals served onboard Muslim or Middle Eastern Airlines certified Halal.

A: Yes, most airlines or Muslim carriers do serves Halal certified meals onboard.


Q: How many Inflight caterer has been certified Halal by competent authority worldwide?Airlines_Logo1.jpg

A: There are over 1,000 caterers (In-flight Catering) worldwide, only about 60  caterers certified Halal.


Q: Are Malaysia Airlines (MAS) appointed caterers and code-sharing partners overseas been certified Halal?

A: Kindly check with the airlines Customer Services Division for an answer.

E: We are not in the position to answer this question as required by the terms and rules of the airlines company confidential information as defined in the CISP (Corporate Information Security Policy)


Q: Why does some "Halal" Airlines do freely serve alcoholic beverages onboard?

A: Kindly check with the airlines Customer Services Division for an answer.

E: We are not in the position to answer this question as required by the terms and rules of the company confidential information as defined in the Corporate Information Security Policy.


Q: Does all airlines conduct "Halal" audit to all appointed caterers ?

A: Normaly NOT, only airlines with "Halal Policy" will send their internal audit team, or appointed private audit company to conduct a series of audits (Hygiene, Safety, Quality including Halal) at their respective appointed caterers annually. The objectives of the team’s visit are generally to gauge or evaluate caterers’ awareness and compliance with regard to the Halal and Hygiene best practices. 


Q: Why does the "Airlines" need to fulfill the Halal requirements ?

A: They must fulfill the Halal requirements simply because of Company or National Policy and to ensure the safety, hygiene and quality of their inflight meals. In essence, the Halal, Hygiene, Quality and Safety of the food are the utmost importance and it is consistent with HACCP, ISO and other food safety standards which are compatible to the teaching of Islam.


Q: Are all appointed caterers required to understand and conform to the Halal Standards as per declared?

A: YES, if the caterer declared and claimed the kitchen unit has been certified Halal, it will be continuously monitored by the competent authority or certifying body at the kitchen production facilities, procedures, storage, transportation and product ingredients and processed food especially meat/ poultry items and its derivatives.


Q: What is Shoobhah?

A: Shoobhah is an Arabic word meaning doubtful or questionable.

E: While many things are clearly halal or clearly haram, there are some things which are not clear. These items are considered questionable or suspect and more information is needed to categorize them as Halal or Non-Halal. Such items are often referred to as shoobhah or mashbooh, which also means suspected.


Q: What is Malaysian Halal Standard (MS 1500:2009)?

A: The Malaysian Standard entitled ‘Halal Food: Production, Preparation, Handling and Storage – General Guidelines’ (MS 1500:2009 - 02nd revision) was developed under the Malaysian Standard Development System under the responsibility of Department of Standards Malaysia (DSM), Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

E: This Malaysian Standard is one of the five initiatives of the Government to realize the Malaysia as a Halal Food Hub. This standard was developed by a National Industry Standards Committee on Halal Standard (ISC I), which was represented by various organizations including JAKIM, as the Chairman for the related Technical Committee.

Scope of this standard is to prescribe practical guidelines for the food industry on the preparation and handling of halal food (including nutrient supplements) and to serve as a basic requirement for food product and food trade or business in Malaysia. It will be used by JAKIM as the basis for certification but will be supplemented by many other requirements for comprehensiveness of the certification process.

The document has undergone a process in accordance to the international standards requirement i.e. the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), whereby an international standards development system is based on consensus of all interested parties such as the Government, private sector, NGOs, researchers and professional bodies. Malaysia (DSM) subscribes to the same ISO policy.

In the future, it is hope that this Malaysian Standard (an official Government document) could be promoted overseas and recognized by other nations or blocs such as US, Europe, China, ASEAN countries, etc. For further information, please contact:

E-mail:  & Web site:


Q: Is it true that all foods except pork are considered Halal?Green_Halal_Logo_01.gif

A: No, it is not true. Besides pork there are other foods which are considered Non Halal.

E: All foods are considered Halal except the following, which are Haram:

  • Swine/pork and its by-products
  • Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
  • Animals killed in the name of anyone other than ALLAH (God)
  • Alcoholic beverages and intoxicants
  • Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears (such as snakes, lizards, reptiles, crocodiles, insects, worms etc.)
  • Blood and blood by-products
  • Foods contaminated with any of the above products

 While many things are clearly halal or clearly haram, there are some things that are not clear. These items are considered questionable or suspect, and more information is needed to categorize them as halal or haram. Such items are often referred to as mashbooh, which means "doubtful" or "questionable". Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, amino acids etc. would be questionable (mashbooh) because, more often than not, the origin of these ingredients is unknown.


Q: What Is Halal Certification?

A: Halal Certification is a process of having a qualified recognised third party organization (with authority and credibility), to supervise the production of consumables, attesting that they were produced in conformity with the preparation and ingredient standards of the Halal lifestyle. After successful adoption and performance of Halal productivity procedures, the supervisory third party then issues Halal Certification to the producer attesting to Halal conformity on a per product basis. Halal requires foods to be good, hygienic, wholesome, quality and pure. 

Q: Why Do I Need Halal Certification?

A: Halal Certification is required to produce acceptable food and consumable products for halal consumers. That includes over 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and the many millions of others who choose to eat Halal and Quality products because of the positive health benefits associated with the cleanliness and purity of food and drug preparation within the halal guidelines

Q: Where Do I Find Halal Certified Ingredients?

A: Halal Certified ingredients can be found in many places. When producing Halal Certified products, it is best to use halal ingredients. We at MHCT can help you find sources of acceptable Halal Certified ingredients. 

Q: What Is The Market For Halal-Certified Products?

A: The market for Halal Certified products is huge and growing rapidly with over 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide and many millions of health conscious non-Muslims who chose to eat Halal certified products because these products are clean and manufactured in a compassionate manner with respect to the treatment of slaughtered animals. (When animals are slaughtered in a less compassionate manner, hormones and toxins from fear and shock are released into the respective bloodstreams of the animals; these hormones and toxins find their way into the musculature and taint the consumed meat with unnecessary ingredients.)

There are over 50 million Muslims in Europe, UK and USA about 350 million in Africa, nearly 250 million in the Middle East and over 850 million in Asia.


Q: What are the status of foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, whey, rennet and animal fats?

A: Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, etc. are to be considered questionable (shoobhah), unless the origin of these ingredients is from Halal source or have been certified Halal.

A: Lecithin is an emulsifier. If the lecithin is derived from plants, egg yolks or Halal slaughtered animals, it is Halal. Otherwise it is not.

E: It is found in plants such as soybeans, in egg yolks and in other animal sources. As discussed below, emulsifiers are compounds used to keep oils or fats and water dispersed in one phase (i.e., they prevent oil and water from separating).

While most lecithin produced in the USA is currently derived from soybeans, it is still possible it might come from animal sources. Unless the ingredient label says soya lecithin or vegetable lecithin, you need to check with the producer to determine the source.

Q: Is Animal Fat/Shortening Halal?

 A: Animal fat or shortening can be from Beef Tallow or Lard.  If from Lard, then it is Haram. If from Beef Tallow, then the animal must have been Halal slaughtered (zabiha), otherwise it is Haram.


Q: Is cheese with Pepsin (rennet)  Halal?

 A: No, it is not Halal. Pepsin is a milk coagulating enzyme usually found in pig's stomach.


Q: What is Whey & Whey Solids?

 A: Portion of milk remaining after coagulation by acid or Rennet (Swine, Bovine, or Microbial) and removal of curd.  Whey is used as a source of lactose, milk solid & whey protein.  Whey solids are the solid fraction of whey.


Q: Is Whey a Halal ingredient?

A: Whey is Halal, only if the Halal starter culture bacteria, Halal medium on which these starter culture grown.

E: Starter culture bacteria are Halal if they obtained from milk source not meat source and media on which these starter culture bacteria grown has to be made from Halal ingredients such milk), microbial rennet, microbial lipase enzyme, Halal color, Halal flavor are used in manufacturing a cheese product from milk.

 These requirements can only obtained if the cheese and whey are Halal or Kosher certified (which meet the Islamic dietary requirements)

Often time, Muslims think that whey is milk based ingredient, it has to be Halal but answer is no. There are two kinds of whey, one is sweet or rennet whey and other is acid whey. Acid whey is obtained during the making of acid type of cheese such as cottage cheese. Sweet or rennet whey is used more in food products than acid whey. Sweet whey or rennet whey is a by-product of cheese making.


Q: What is Rennet?

 A: Rennet is a milk coagulant that is the concentrated extract of Rennin enzyme obtained either from calves stomach (Calf Rennet) or adult bovine stomach (Bovine Rennet) or from swine (pepsin).


Q: What Is The Source Of Rennet?

A: Rennet is one of the enzymes used to make cheese. The active ingredient in rennet is chymosin. Chymosin can also be produced by other means, including biotechnology. Chymosin produced using biotechnology is Halal.

E: If an ingredient label states the product in question contains rennet, then the rennet came from an animal source. As such, items containing rennet must be considered questionable for the Halal consumer until the source is known.

 In general, most rennet produced in the Australia and New Zealand comes from calves that have been processed in accordance with Islamic requirements.

 Q: May I eat the food served onboard any Airlines?

 A: Every Muslim traveler should request Halal meal, and if unavailable, the traveler should make sure the request is recorded so it can be considered by the airline in the future.

E: After registering your request, you may have to opt for the seafood or vegetarian meal. Most Airlines offer a variety of meal choices to meet passenger needs. There are low-salt meals, vegetarian meals, seafood meals and others. Some airlines even offer Muslim meals and have been certified Halal by local Islamic authority or recognized Halal certifying body. Allah, knows best.


Q: Isn't All Cheese Halal?

A: The only way to know whether the cheese is Halal or not, is to check the Halal status. It is not possible to make a blanket claim about each an every cheese manufacturer’s product Halal, as each manufacturer has their own process and recipe.

E: At the same time however, companies that claim Halal status can only do so if they have had Halal certification by Islamic organizations or an equivalent Muslim body.

Check the source of rennet, is it from animal, plant or microbial or ask the food industry about it or else have it written on the label. In general most cheese products do not list the source of the enzyme, so one must ask the producer from where the enzyme comes. Of course, it is possible the source will change without notification. Cheese products may contain many other ingredients, each of which must also be examined.

Q: Is Chocolate Liquor Non-Halal (Haram)?

A: No, chocolate liquor or chocolate mass is sweet syrup containing chocolate, sugar and other ingredients. It is used in making candy, drinks and other chocolate-flavored products. It does not contain any alcohol, so it is not Haram.


Q: May We Eat Gelatin?

A: If the word gelatin appears on a label without Halal reference to its source, it is generally derived from pig skins and cattle bones, so it must be avoided.

E: Most certified Halal gelatin are made from fish bones or Halal slaughtered cattle i.e. “Halalgel” it is now available for the food and pharmaceutical industry.


Q: Are Kosher Products Halal?

A: There are some differences between Halal and Kosher that make some kosher products haram or questionable with respect to Muslim consumption.

E: This is a question that comes up once in a while. Let us take the time to provide a thorough analysis. Kosher is a term associated only with food. It has a similar meaning as Halal does in the context of food, but there are also many differences. Some of the differences are listed below:

  • Islam prohibits all intoxicants, including alcohols, liquors and wines, whereas Judaism regards alcohol and wines as kosher. Hence kosher foods may contain alcohol. If they do, they are considered haram in Islam.
  • Gelatin is considered kosher by many Jews regardless of its source of origin. For Muslims, if gelatin is prepared from swine it is haram. Even if gelatin is prepared from cows that are not zabiha, many scholars consider it haram.

These differences may seem minor to some. However, indulging in acts or cuisine that is haram is a very serious offense against ALLAH. Consuming alcohol or pork is a clear violation of ALLAH's commandments and should not be taken lightly. And Allah knows best.

Q: Are Mono and Diglycerides Halal?

A: Mono and di-glycerides can be derived from animal or vegetable sources. When derived from vegetable sources, they are halal. When derived from animal sources, they are questionable.

E: Mono and di-glycerides are fatty substances that are used as emulsifiers. Halal consumers should avoid products containing mono- and diglycerides unless they are labeled as 100% vegetable mono- and diglycerides. Mono- and diglycerides are used in a wide variety of products, including baked goods, peanut butter, margarine, shortening, and other products. More information is required to determine if they are halal.


Q: May I Eat in Fast Food Restaurants in Predominantly non-Muslim societies?

A: There are four basic considerations:

  1. 1.      the meat or poultry itself must be Halal,
  2. 2.      the method of preparation must comply to Islamic requirements,
  3. 3.      proper segregation of Halal in the common preparation area,
  4. 4.      finally, the other items that combine to make up the meal must be Halal

Q: How does Halal certification body certified these restaurants?

A: Usually Halal certification body would not certify the majority of meals found in these restaurants unless the restaurants would have to do the following:

  1. Have on-hand an acceptable supply of Halal meat and poultry, it derivatives and byproducts.   
  2. Have procedures and policies in place that prevent the cross contamination of Halal items by non-halal items. This would require separate ovens, cookers, grills, preparation areas, utensils, etc. for dedicated Halal items.
  3. It would also require the presence of a Muslim employee (highly recommended) and the training of all employees to an acceptable standard understanding of the requirements of Halal food preparation.

E: We are some distance from achieving this at present, however; as more Muslims and non-Muslims demand Halal certified products, more food providers and restaurant owners will start to accommodate them.ALLAH,Ta'ala, knows best.

Q: Why should food products be certified Halal by an established Islamic Council?

A: It signifies respect to all Muslim consumers who has been ordained to consume only Halal foods in accordance with the teachings of the al-Quran.

E: Thus having Halal certification from an established Islamic Council will help to build Halal consumer's greater confidence without suspicious or doubtful over the consumption of the food products.


Q: Can Halal foods be handled, prepared, processed, stored and transported from the same premises and facilities used for non-Halal foods production without proper segregation?

A: No, the Halal dedicated production area and facilities used must only be for the purposes of Halal foods production.

E: The equipments and facilities are not to be used for both Halal and non-Halal food production. This is notwithstanding that those premises and facilities have been cleaned thoroughly as in accordance to the Syariah Law. This stringent measure is taken to prevent the possibility of Halal foods being contaminated with Non-Halal elements or any other elements that are considered filthy (Najis) by the Syariah Law.


Q: What is the advantage for food manufacturers to apply for a Halal Certification?

A: Halal certification awarded by an established Islamic authority means it is an authoritative, reliable and testimony to support food manufacturers' claim that their products have met strict Halal requirement by the Syariah Law.

E: The certified Halal food products will not be only accepted domestically but is marketable to worldwide Halal consumers. This opens an opportunity for export markets. Thus the Halal Certificate will help to meet the importing country's trade entry requirements. As such this may enhance the products' marketability globally.

Q: How does Halal certification boost international trade?

A: Today, Halal trademark is an important marketing tool in the international arena particularly if the product is aimed at penetrating Muslim countries.

E: Muslim consumers will have greater confidence in purchasing such products without questioning its authenticity. Producers who do not have the Halal certification would lose a large segment of potential customers from around the world. In addition, the Halal certification is also required by an importer to the country.


Q: What are the disadvantages of NOT getting the Halal certification?

A: Import barrier in some counties, limited market segment and lack of consumers by the Muslim community in purchasing the goods.


Q: What is the potential in the Halal foods market?

A: There is approximately 1.6 billion fellow Muslims around the world. This constitutes a very focus and specific market segment across the world.

E: In addition, there is also a potential market in the non-Muslim consumers for Halal products as they become more aware to the high standards associated with Halal Certification System. Currently, the Halal foods market worldwide is estimated to worth USD$600 billion per anum.


Q: Does vegetable-based food require Halal certification?

A: Generally all plants are Halal as long as it is not poisonous, intoxicating or detrimental to health. Most food producers, especially those from non-Muslim countries, assumed that vegetable-based products are safe for Muslim consumption. Thus Halal certification is not required by an established Islamic Council.

E: But the Halal Certification System is not only with regards to the raw material used. It encompasses the whole production process which includes processing, packaging, labelling, storage and transportation. However, a processed vegetable-based food is not naturally Halal if any of the production cycle is tainted with unclean elements (filthy or Najis) as in accordance with the Syariah Law. For instance, fats and oils or shortening is used during the process to enhance the taste of vegetable based food. Some of these enhancers may have been derived from a non-Halal animal. In addition some vegetable fats is processed in the same machinery which has been used to process non-Halal animal fats. Further, some packaging may contain animal grease such as pork fats. If these packaging materials have been in contact with the Halal vegetable-based products in anyway, it will render those products Haram and unfit for Muslim consumption.


Q: What are the other products which require the Halal Certification to gain Muslim consumers' greater confidence?

A: Halal certification is not only limited to food produce. Other products such as non-alcoholic beverage, raw materials needed in food processing, pharmaceutical and health care products, traditional herbal products, cosmetics and personal care products, cleaning products, daily consumable products and leather-made products (e.g. shoes, furniture and hand-bag) are examples of things that have to be Halal for Muslim consumption / usage.

E: In addition to that, places like restaurants, hotels, slaughtering houses; packaging and labeling materials are also required to have Halal certification to ensure they are suitable to be visited / used by Muslim consumers. In addition to that, other things like utensils and machines used for food catering and processing must not be contaminated with anything that are considered filthy (Najis) under the Islamic Law.


Q: What is FD & C Yellow No. 5 and FD & C Red No. 40 colours?

A: FD&C yellow No. 5 or FD&C red No. 40 are chemical dyes and they are Halal if use as pure granular or powder form but if they use in liquid form then the solvent has to be Halal.

N.B. Vegetable oil or glycerin (from pork or beef or vegetable fat) can be used as a solvent to dissolve these colors for use in liquid products such as soft drinks. A Halal or Kosher symbol (which meet the Islamic dietary requirements) on a food package containing these colors indicates that no pork or beef fat glycerin was used as a solvent.


Q: Halal status of L-Cysteine?

A: L-Cysteine is manufactured from human hair (Haram source), non zabiha or dead chicken/duck feathers and from petroleum source. MCG considered it Halal if it is made from petroleum source.A non essential amino acid is used as dough conditioner in bagels, pizza, bread, hard rolls.


Q: Are E471 (Emulsifier) Halal?

A: E471 (Emulsifier) can be derived from animal or vegetable sources. When derived from vegetable sources (soya lecithin), they are halal. When derived from animal sources, they are questionable and need investigation.

E: E 471(Mono and di-glycerides) are fatty substances that are used as emulsifiers. Halal consumers should avoid products containing mono- and diglycerides unless they are from plant origin or labeled Halal and suitable for vegetarian. More information is required to determine if the status on the ingredients list is not clearly mentioned.

Q: Are all natural or artificial flavors Halal?
A: No, in order for a natural or artificial flavor to be Halal, it has to be made from Halal flavoring material and no ethyl alcohol is used as a solvent.

E: A Kosher symbol (which meet the Islamic dietary requirements) on a food package containing natural or artificial flavor indicates that it is manufactured from Halal flavoring material but ethyl alcohol may or may not use as a solvent. It requires further investigation from food manufacturer to confirm that no alcohol is used as a solvent.


Q: Halal status of Yeast Extract or autolyzed Yeast:
A: If the yeast extract or autolyzed yeast is made from baker's yeast then it is a Halal ingredient. But if it is made from brewer's yeast as a by-product of beer making then it is not considered Halal because beer can penetrate in the yeast cells and never convert to any other things.


Q: Which Vinegar is considered as Halal?
A: Distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, malt vinegar, corn (Maize) sugar vinegar are considered Halal.


Q: Wine Processing Aid Ingredients or Hidden ingredients in food products and food ingredients:
A: FDA will allow up to 2% of processing aid ingredients or hidden ingredients in a food product or in a food ingredient without reporting in the ingredients statement. Only Halal or Kosher certified food products (which meet the Islamic dietary requirements) protect Muslim consumers from Haram processing aid ingredients or hidden ingredients.

E: Example of Hidden ingredients are use of pork gelatin in apple juice processing, gelatin in Beta carotene, Polysorbate 80 (a fat based emulsifier) in vitamins mix for milk fortification. Vinegar and Balsamic vinegar are not considered Halal because of left over of wine and alcohol.ood regulations.


Q: What are ingredients of Halal Soy Sauce?
All purpose soy sauce or non brewed soy sauce is a Halal soy sauce made from water, salt, hydrolyzed soy protein, corn syrup and sodium benzoate.

E: Naturally “brewed soy sauce” is not a Halal soy sauce because it is just made like wine containing 2-3% ethyl alcohol in it. Soy, wheat and water are main ingredients of naturally brewed soy sauce. Need further investigation to determine its Halal status..

“HALAL” Glossary - FAQ


Ahlul Kitab

A term from the Quran. It refers to the People who received Divine Scriptures and is a reference to the Christians and the Jews.


The proper name of GOD, The Creator. ALLAH is a single being with no partners.


Compounds that delay or prevent oxidation of foods. Examples are BHA, BHT and citric acid.

Animal Shortening

Shortening is a type of fat such as lard that is solid at room temperature, and is used for making pastry. Vegetable shortening is halal.

Animal Fats

May be consumed if from Halal, Zabihah, animals


Alcohol is a colourless  liquid, produced by the fermentation of sugar or starch, that is the intoxicating agent in fermented drinks and is used as a solvent. Also called ethanol and ethyl alcohol.


Meat from the back and sides of a hog that has been salted, dried, and often smoked.

Broth (from animal)

A liquid made by cooking vegetables, meat, seafood or poultry in water for a long time, used as a base for soups and sauces.


Butylated Hydroxy Anisole. It is an antioxidant. BHA is Halal.


Butylated Hydroxy Toluene. It is an antioxidant. BHT is Halal.


An extract from Irish Moss, which forms a gel in food systems. It is used as a food ingredient. Carrageenan is Halal.


The major protein in milk. It is used in the manufacture of most cheeses. It may be Halal or haram, depending upon the enzyme used to produce it.

Chocolate Liquor (Chocolate Mass)

A semi-viscous sweet syrup containing chocolate, sugar and other ingredients. It is used in making candy, drinks and other chocolate flavored foods. Chocolate liquor is not alcoholic and is Halal, unless haram ingredients are added to it.

Clarifying Agents

A group of chemical compounds used in liquid foods to remove cloudiness due to suspended matter.

Cream of Tartar

A white crystalline chemical called potassium bitartarate.


Several bacteria and other microbes used singly or in combination to bring about fermentation in several foods. They are used in the manufacture of fermented milks, cheeses and fermented meat products.


Fatty substances containing glycerol and two fatty acids. Diglycerides can be made from animal or vegetable fats and they are used as an emulsifier in food products. If made from Halal animals slaughtered in the Islamic way or from plant sources, they are Halal. Otherwise they are haram. Currently, it is best to look for products using only 100% vegetable diglycerides.

Enzymes(Microbial Enzymes are okay)

A protein substance produced in living cells that influences a chemical reaction within a plant or animal without being changed itself; an organic catalyst. Enzymes help break down food so that it can be digested. Pepsin is an enzyme which is not Halal.

Ethanol / Ethyl Alcohol

Alcohol is a colorless liquid, produced by the fermentation of sugar or starch, that is the intoxicating agent in fermented drinks and is used as a solvent. Also called ethanol and ethyl alcohol.


A chemical substance that keeps fats (or oils) dispersed in water or water droplets dispersed in fats (or oils). Emulsifiers are used in foods containing both fats (or oils) and water. Examples of emulsifiers are lecithin and mono and diglycerides. Emulsifiers can be made from animal or vegetable sources. If made from Halal animals slaughtered in the Islamic way or from plant sources, they are Halal. Otherwise they are haram.


Protein substances found and formed in all living cells. They bring about chemical reactions inside and outside the body, without being consumed themselves. They are extracted from animals or microorganisms and are utilized in the food industry to manufacture cheese and other products. If made from Halal animals slaughtered in the Islamic way, from plant sources or from microorganisms, they are Halal. Otherwise they are haram. Currently, it is best to look for microbial enzymes.


A derived protein of animal origin. An odorless, tasteless, protein substance like glue or jelly, obtained by boiling the bones, hoofs, and other waste parts of animals. It dissolves easily in hot water and is used in making jellied salads and desserts, camera film, and glue. It is made from the skins, bones and connective tissues and used in desserts and as an additive in a variety of food products. If made from Halal slaughtered animals, it is Halal. Otherwise it is haram. Unless a product containing gelatin is certified Halal or says Halal gelatin, it is most likely haram and should be avoided.


A strong colourless coholic drink distilled from grain and flavored with juniper berries.


Meat cut from the thigh of the hind leg of a hog after curing by salting or smoking.


An Arabic word meaning lawful or permitted. Halal certification indicates a product is lawful or permitted.


An Arabic word meaning unlawful or prohibited.


A saturated fat derived from pork. It is used in frying oils and bakery products. Lard is haram and any products containing lard are haram.


It is an ingredient which is used in bakery products as a dough conditioner. It is often used in pizza crusts, pita breads and in bagels. It is made from human hair, chicken or duck feathers and synthetic materials. L-cysteine from human hair is not Halal and must always be avoided. Synthetic and chicken or duck feather L-cysteine is Halal and may be consumed.


The fat of pigs or hogs, melted down and made clear. Lard is made especially of the internal fat of the abdomen and is used in cooking. An enzyme produced by the liver, pancreas, or stomach, or by plant seeds, that breaks down fats. Animal lipase should be avoided.


An emulsifier comprised of glycerol, two fatty acids, phosphoric acid and choline. It is extracted from egg yolks, soybeans or animal fats. If made from Halal animals slaughtered in the Islamic way, from plant sources or egg yolks, it is Halal. Otherwise it is haram. It is best to stick to products that are Halal certified or contain vegetable lecithin or soya lecithin.

 Mashbooh (or ) Shoobhah

An Arabic word meaning suspect or questionable. Mashbooh items can be produced from Halal or Haram sources. When the specific source is not known, the items are suspect or questionable.


Fatty substances containing glycerol and one fatty acid. Monoglycerides can be made from animal or vegetable fats and are used as emulsifiers in food products. If made from Halal animals slaughtered in the Islamic way or from plant sources, they are Halal. Otherwise they are haram. Currently, it is best to look for products using only 100% vegetable diglycerides.


An enzyme extracted from animal stomachs, especially pig stomachs, and used in the production of cheese. Pepsin is haram.


The Divine revelation to the Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of ALLAH be upon him. The Quran was revealed through the Arch Angel Jibril (Gabriel), may peace be upon him, and is the direct words of ALLAH. It was memorized by the Prophet and his followers and continues to be memorized by thousands of Muslims. The Quran is the source of wisdom and law for Muslims.


An enzyme extracted from the 4th stomach of calves and used in the production of cheese. If the calves are slaughtered in the Islamic way, it is Halal. Otherwise it should be avoided. Microbial rennet is Halal.

An alcoholic liquor made from sugar cane or molasses. It can be clear but is usually colored brownish-red by storage in oak casks or by the addition of caramel


A blend of fats and/or oils used in baked products. If made from Halal animals slaughtered in the Islamic way or from plant sources, it is Halal. Otherwise it is haram. Currently, it is best to look for products using only vegetable shortening.

Stearic Acid

A long chain fatty acid found abundantly in most saturated fats. It can also be synthesized. It is used to make functional chemicals and metallic stearates (sodium stearate, potassium stearate, etc.) for a variety of food applications. If made from Halal animals slaughtered in the Islamic way or from plant sources, it is Halal. Otherwise it is haram. Currently, it is best to look for products using only vegetable stearates.


A liquid made by simmering meat, fish, bones, or vegetables with herbs in water, used in soups, stews, and sauces.


A white solid fat obtained from cattle, sheep or goats and used in making shortenings and frying oils. If made from animals slaughtered in the Islamic way, it is Halal. Otherwise it is haram. Currently, it is best to avoid edible products containing tallow unless they are Halal certified.

Vanilla Extract/Flavour

A flavouring extract made from the vanilla bean and used in candy, ice cream, and perfumes. The flavour extracted from vanilla beans is most commonly dissolved in alcohol. Need to investigate the alcohol content in the ingredient.


The watery part of milk that separates from the curd during cheese making. It is used as an ingredient in many products. If the enzyme used to produce the whey and cheese is certfied Halal, then it is Halal. Otherwise it is not. It is best to avoid products containing whey unless they are Halal certified.


Alcohol fermented from grapes or other fruit: an alcoholic drink made by fermenting the juice of grapes, or the juice of other plants.


N.B. Some of these definitions and descriptions were extracted from the book Islamic Dietary Laws and Practices, by Mohammad M. Hussaini, M.S. and Ahmad H. Sakr, Ph.D. or JAKIM Halal E-Codes Booklet.


Is Vinegar Halal? @ifanca.comVinegar.jpg

Vinegar is one of the oldest condiments used in foods since ancient times and it continues to be used all over the world as a flavoring and as a preservative. Vinegar is made by two distinct biological processes, both the result of the action of beneficial microorganisms (yeast and “Acetobacter” bacteria) that turn sugars into acetic acid through an intermediary step of alcohol. Many of our favorite foods such as yogurt, cheese and pickles involve some type of bacteria in their production. The first step in the process is called alcoholic fermentation and occurs when yeasts change natural sugars to alcohol in the absence of oxygen, under controlled conditions. In the second step of the process, a group of bacteria (called “Acetobacter”) converts the alcohol portion to acetic acid. It is the acetic acid fermentation that forms vinegar.

In the manufacture of vinegar, proper bacterial cultures, timing and temperatures are important for fermentation. Acetic acid is not vinegar, although acetic acid is the primary constituent of vinegar, besides water. Vinegar contains many vitamins and compounds not found in pure acetic acid, such as riboflavin, Vitamin B-1 and mineral salts from the starting material that imparts vinegar its distinct flavor. The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) does not recognize diluted acetic acid as vinegar. Consequently, acetic acid should not be substituted for vinegar in pickled foods, or in foods that consumers customarily expect to be prepared with vinegar.

Vinegar can be made from any fruit, or from any material containing sugar. Typical retail varieties of vinegar include white distilled vinegar, cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, grape vinegar, rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar and sugar cane vinegar. Other specialty vinegars include banana vinegar, pineapple vinegar, and raspberry vinegar. Vinegar is also available in flavored and seasoned variety (e.g., garlic, pepper, sage, etc.).

The strength of vinegar is measured by the percent of acetic acid present in the product. All vinegar sold in the United States at the retail level should have at least 4% acidity as mandated by FDA. Typical white distilled vinegar comprises at least 4% acidity but no more than 7%. Cider and wine vinegars, typically, are slightly more acidic with approximately 5-6% acidity. 

Islamic Status of Wine Vinegar: Vinegar1.jpgWhile contributing to an article on Istihala: Change of State, Sheikh Dr. Jaafar Al-Quaderi gives an example where he says: “Wine is Haram as long as it remains wine. However, if the same wine is turned into vinegar, it becomes halal. Hence the use of vinegar derived from wine is halal.” According to Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi: “Muslim scholars unanimously agree that if wine turns into vinegar by itself, it is lawful.

Most scholars say that it is pure and lawful because it has changed from its original state, others say that it is still impure and, thus, must be avoided. In the books of the Maliki jurists, it is stated that it’s permissible to treat wine so that it becomes vinegar. One may argue that some part of Haram (disallowed) wine may be present in wine vinegar, because during the processing of converting wine to wine vinegar, 100% of alcohol does not convert to acid. Some minute amount of wine is left over in wine vinegar.

Examining the historic perspective of vinegar making, the determination as to when the vinegar was ready was made by taste and smell rather than percent conversion. In biological as well as manufacturing processes, the reactions seldom result in 100 percent conversion. 

Prophet Muhammad** said: “Vinegar is a comfort for man.” (Muslim) Another well-known Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad**) is: “God has put blessing in vinegar, for truly it was the seasoning used by the Prophets before me.” And Bayhaqi has transmitted this Hadith: “A household which has vinegar will never suffer from poverty”. In conclusion, vinegar has been consumed by Muslims for centuries, even during the time of Prophet Muhammad**. The product itself, as manufactured by the industry and commercially available, is halal. ** Muslims recite the words ‘peace be upon him’ whenever the name of Prophet Muhammad  is  mentioned.

Flight Catering - IntroductionInflight_Meals.jpg

The flight catering industry is a very large, global activity. The total market size is estimated to be around 12 billion euros.  More than 1 billion passengers are served each year.  It is probably one of the most complex operational systems in the world.  For instance, a large-scale flight catering production unit may employ over 800 staff to produce as many as 25,000 meals per day during peak periods.

Large international airlines may have more than 1,000 takeoffs and landings every day. A single, long-haul Boeing 747 has over 40,000 items loaded on to it before it flies.  All together these items weigh 6 metric tonnes and occupy a space of 60 cubic metres. These items range from meals to toilet bags, from duty-free goods to first aid boxes, from newspapers to headsets. Food items must be fresh and items for personal passenger use must be clean and serviceable.   These facts and others like them make flight catering unlike any other sector of the catering industry.

While the way food is served on trays to airline passengers bears some resemblance to service styles in restaurants or cafeterias, the way food is prepared and cooked is increasingly resembling a food manufacturing plant. Certainly the hot kitchen in a typical production kitchen is often no more than 10% of the total floor area.  The rest of the space is used for bonded stores, tray and trolley assembly, and flight wash-up.  And almost certainly there are far more loaders and drivers employed than chefs.

The way food and equipment is stored resembles a freight warehouse, and the way meals and equipment are transported and supplied has a close affinity to military-style logistics and distribution systems. When the very large numbers and variety of items which must be loaded for passenger service during a flight are considered, together with the need for them to be loaded at widespread locations, the logistics complexity is obvious. It is therefore not surprising that the know that Flight catering is 70 per cent logistics and 30 per cent cooking.

Role of Food OnboardInflight_Emirates.jpg

How important are food and onboard service to the airlines? Some airlines use food as a marketing tool. A number of airlines advertise their product by making food the focal point. But food as a marketing tool has only a limited impact. Surveys over a number of years suggest that passengers appear most concerned about safety, ontime performance, scheduling/ticketing issues, the aircraft's physical surroundings such as seat and leg comfort, and gate check-in and boarding.  This means that while food is important, it is unlikely to be the deciding factor in a passenger's airline choice.

This is most clearly seen in the USA where deregulation has had a great effect upon competition and fare wars are common.  This has led to most US airlines implementing a no-frills policy where no meals are served on board flights within the USA.  This same trend is evident in Europe, with carriers such as Ryanair and EasyJet offering low cost, no frills flights between European destinations.

Consumer (and media) perceptions of meal quality in airlines is low.  This may be due to a number of factors which affect passengers’ appetite and behaviour whilst flying. Sensory abilities such as smell, sight, and taste are affected by the relatively low humidity and air pressure experienced at altitude.  This affects taste buds (which may function as much as 30 percent below par) and mucous membranes in the nose (which blunts the sense of smell).

Airline food is often more highly seasoned for these reasons.  Likewise, at such a high altitude not all wines retain their subtle aroma and bouquet and this has to be taken into account when wine lists are chosen by the airlines and caterers.  Also, as passenger movement and exercise is limited at such high altitude, the meals provided need to be easily digestible. Moreover, the effects of alcohol are more quickly observed in a pressurised cabin and on dehydrated passengers.

Research at the University of Surrey suggests that while food and drink in flight may not affect pre-purchase decisions, it emerges as a highly significant post-purchase factor.  The onboard service and meal is the most remembered aspect of people’s travel experience, so the food service offered to passengers is still an important part of the overall service experience but as the factors listed above begin to suggest, providing a product that will satisfy the customer is about much more than simply providing a ready meal.

The passenger receives a final product that can consists not only of well-seasoned food but one that is made up of many different products procured from many different places and through many different processes. Major Stakeholders The in-flight catering industry consists of five major players: the airlines, or their various representatives; the providers, in this case specialised flight caterers; the suppliers, either to the providers or direct to the airlines; those using the airline's services, that is the fare-paying passengers and distributors (Fig. 1.4-1).  Figure 1.4-1   Major Stakeholders in Flight Catering PassengersAirlinesProviders (Caterers) Suppliers (Food) (Non-food) Distributor

a) Role of the Passenger 

A feature of the airline industry is the huge diversity of customers. Prior to the 1960s, air travel was exclusive – only the very rich or government employees would fly long haul.  The development of jet aircraft and charter airlines lead to mass air travel.  Subsequently in the 1990s, the business model was redesigned by the operators of so called low cost or budget airlines.

b)  Role of Airlines 

Airlines are responsible for the design of onboard service.  This is affected by the time of flight, length of flight, point of embarkation and disembarkation, nationality or ethnicity of passengers, seat class (economy, business or first), budget allowed by the airline, price of food, seasonality of food, cost of labour to make a food item, time required to serve the food, number of flight attendants available to serve food, time needed to consume food, ability of meal to be consumed in a small place on a plane, the time and effort needed to clear an item, the needs and desires of the passengers, odours that may penetrate the cabin, the ability of meal to be rethermalised and the ability of the meal to withstand low humidity and pressures. Given this long list of variables it is not surprising that the nature of onboard service varies widely from flight to flight and airline to airline.

c) Role of CaterersInflight_Meals.1jpg.jpg

Caterers have two main roles: to prepare items not bought in directly from suppliers to a state ready for loading on board and to assemble trays and trolleys. Flight kitchens are always located near to major airports and are usually used to 'manufacture' consumable food items. There are two main reasons why menu items may be made outside of airport-based flight kitchens: the cost of space and the cost of labour. Airport space is at a premium so often it is not feasible for a flight kitchen to produce all of the meals needed for every seat class. For instance, some flight kitchens or caterers may make their first-class, and in some cases business-class, meals from scratch at the flight kitchen and outsource all other meal production.

The caterer is often in an unusual and sometimes difficult, position. Although they are a customer of the supplier, the products used may not be of their choosing but may have been determined by the airline. When the products used are those purchased directly by the airline, caterers only charge for a handling and storage fee of the product but not the cost of the product. For instance, all liquor products for tax reasons must be purchased by the airlines, either through a prepaid arrangement with the distributor or through an arrangement whereby the charges are directly invoiced to the airline. However, the caterer is often responsible for keeping and accounting for any such products and these products are usually delivered directly to the caterer’s bonded store. The challenge for caterers is that the products are the property of the individual airlines served by the caterer.  Products belonging to one airline cannot be used for another, even if the two airlines use identical products.

d) Role of Suppliers

Suppliers may supply the inflight industry in two main ways.  First, based on the planned menus, the supplier receives direct orders from the airlines, although they deliver their goods to flight kitchens operated by the contracted caterers.  Airlines buy direct from suppliers because they want to have continuity of supply in all their stations, because they negotiate a discount, or because they want to maintain a particular brand image.  Second, the supplier may supply the caterer directly, with products that meet the contract specification. 


Food additives are commonly used in foods to perform a number of functions. They are used to preserve food, retard spoilage, improve nutritional value and make food more appealing. Food additives make food more convenient especially for the on-the-go consumer!
Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) has halal certified several categories of additives for companies e.g., Cargill, Chr. Hansen, DSM – DuPont, Firmenich, International Flavors & Fragrances, and Kraft Foods Ingredients. Since the source of these additives varies, Muslim consumers are advised to check with the manufacturer if any additive is from animal source and if the residual alcohol content in any product exceeds the limit of less than 0.1% in any consumer product due to any of the added flavor or color. Additives are used in foods for following reasons:

Preserving and Retarding Spoilage

Antioxidants are added to food products to retard spoilage. Mold, bacteria, air-borne microorganisms, and other substances can cause food to spoil. Bacteria can also cause food borne illnesses. Antioxidants prevent fats and oils in food products from becoming rancid and prevent fresh fruits from turning brown when exposed to air.

Improving Nutritional Value

Vitamins and minerals are added to food to improve nutritional value. They are added to a variety of products including milk, flour and cereals to help reduce malnutrition. Products containing added nutrients must be appropriately labeled.

Increasing Appeal

Spices and flavors are added to food to enhance taste, leavening agents are added to make baked goods rise, colors are added to enhance appearance, emulsifiers are added to give products a consistent texture, stabilizers and thickeners are added to produce a smooth and uniform texture, anti-caking agents are added to help substances, such as salt, flow freely rather than stay in one clump and other additives are added to modify acidity and alkalinity of foods. Additives may be natural or artificial. Natural additives are manufactured from natural sources. Examples of natural additives are lecithin derived from soybeans or corn, and food coloring derived from beets. Artificial additives are often used when a natural additive cannot be found or when they a