In a significant move, Uttar Pradesh authorities have implemented a state-wide ban on the “production, storage, distribution, and sale of halal-certified edible items” as of November 18. Let’s explore what halal is, what halal-certified products entail, and the controversies surrounding this decision.
What is Halal and Halal Food?
Halal, an Arabic term meaning “permissible,” is associated with food that adheres to Islamic Law. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations outlines specific guidelines for halal food, including proper slaughter practices.
According to The Indian Express, vegetarian food is generally considered halal unless it contains alcohol. The FAO recommends that when a food product is claimed to be halal, the label should explicitly reflect this.
Halal-Certified Products: What You Need to Know
Halal certification serves as a guarantee that food is prepared in accordance with Islamic law and remains unadulterated. In India, various private companies, including Halal India Pvt Ltd and Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, provide halal certification. While some of these bodies are recognized by the Indian government, others lack official recognition.
Is Halal Certification Mandatory?
Contrary to popular belief, the Indian government does not mandate halal certification. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) provides the standard certification required for consumer edible products, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Controversies Surrounding Halal-Certified Products
The controversy revolves around the legality of certificate-issuing authorities and allegations of targeting specific communities. A case was registered against entities, including Halal India Private Limited, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, Halal Council of India, and Jamiat Ulama Maharashtra, for allegedly exploiting religious sentiments to boost sales through halal certification.
Legal Aspects of Halal Certification
The Uttar Pradesh government’s ban comes in response to complaints against companies issuing halal certification. Some private companies were accused of issuing forged certificates for financial gain. The legality of these certificate-issuing entities is under question, as none are purportedly recognized by the central government.
The Halal Certification System in India
Various halal-certifying agencies provide accreditation to companies seeking halal certification in India. The National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies (NABCB) accredits these bodies under the Quality Council of India. Certification from government-recognized bodies grants companies advantages in both national and international markets.
Concerns Over Halal Certification
The official notification from Uttar Pradesh’s Food Safety and Drug Administration department highlights halal certification as a parallel system causing confusion regarding the quality of food items. Additionally, concerns were raised about the exploitation of religious sentiments to boost sales and create social animosity.
The controversy surrounding the ban on halal-certified products in Uttar Pradesh reflects concerns about the legality of certification-issuing entities and potential exploitation of religious sentiments. As the debate continues, the need for a unified regulatory framework for halal certification in India becomes evident.
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