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Seeking some tips on purchasing Halal processed food products (not fatwas!)

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 01:02
Asalam alaikum,

I am interested to know how the members here especially Western Muslims go about buying processed food products (juices, powders, biscuits, syrups, chocolates, ketchup, peanut butter, even bread/toast etc) and to what extent they go to ensure they are Halal. Advice from those members living in the United States will be especially welcome as that is where I live.

I am NOT looking for fatwas, just seeking practical tips and want to know how everyone approaches this issue.

Please do NOT point me towards Muadh Khan's (aka Colonel Hardstone) video on this topic. That is not very relevant and I will explain why later on in this post.

Basically, any time one goes to purchase any processed food goods such as juices, powders, biscuits, syrups, even bread/toast etc.; one can never be sure that a certain product is Halal because so many different ingredients are listed.

I can think of a few possibilities:

1) One looks for those products that are labeled vegan or vegetarian. This can be difficult, plus there might be a possibility that a product labeled vegan/vegetarian is still not Halal.

2) One looks up the ingredients list, and researches them (even contact the company) to verify if there are any animal sourced ingredients. This is where Muadh Khan's (Colonel Hardstone) video comes into play, as he has explained how to do it. However this is a tedious process and I doubt anyone actually does this for every product. (which is why I said his video is not very relevant)

3) One goes to Halal certifying bodies websites and searches which food products are Halal. This again can be tedious if you are to do it for every food product you buy. Also, is there any North America based reliable body/website for this purpose?

So, how does everyone go about this?
I am aware that the vast majority of Muslims just buy stuff without verifying whether its Halal or not. They are only careful when buying meat.

An important point:
I sometimes hear people say that just buy processed food products without investigating the ingredients and Halal status UNLESS you have a doubt.
The problem is, any product is doubtful unless you have investigated. These products manufactured by non-Muslims are not made keeping Halal principles in mind. Yes, some (or many) products turn out to be Halal coincidentally because they happen to not contain Haraam ingredients.

Please let me know how everyone handles this issue. I am very confused.
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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 08:41
It's not as complicated as you make it sound!

I always buy the same items as I know they are Halal but I regularly check the ingredients just in case there is a change.

With any new item, simply learn which ingredients are haram or makruh and don't buy them.

Today we have Halal certified shops where people assume everything is Halal. However, that's not the case, a lot of the confectionary they sell is standard items and haram. So as long as you are aware of haram ingredients and or their e-number, you should be good to go.

Keep a list of the haram e numbers (they aren't that many)

Find out what each ingredient is and you'll be able to learn what is Halal and what is not Halal very quickly.

With regards to edible vegan items, most, if not all of these will be Halal. If they contain alcohol in it, then find out what the alcohol is used for and what type it is.

It's not a long process, but once you know which items you can eat, you continue to buy them and you wouldn't have to be reading the ingredients every time you go shopping.

In addition to the e numbers, in America, certain colours are used by name, for example, Lake Red etc etc. Find out what they are, whether it is from animal sources, artificial or natural.


You are fortunate that you are reading ingredients in America. When I was abroad, in a Muslim country, I was reading ingredients on almost everything I was buying because everything was manufactured outside of the country.

When I was in your country, Pakistan, I was also reading ingredients and NOT purchasing many items because they were known to be haram. However, the family members, shop keepers, etc were surprised that I was pointing out so many haram items. They had this attitude that they are in a Muslim country and that the government wouldn't allow haram imports. Little do they know.

People in Muslim countries consume more haram than those in non Muslim countries because the latter is being more conscious about what they are consuming. The thought of something being haram in Muslim countries doesn't even occur to them so they are oblivious to the idea that ingredients must be checked.

The world itself is a very small place because of import and export.

Having said that, it's better to still read the ingredients as many items which are haram in one country, are actually Halal if manufactured elsewhere and vice versa.
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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 10:36
abu mohammed wrote:
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People in Muslim countries consume more haram than those in non Muslim countries because the latter is being more conscious about what they are consuming. The thought of something being haram in Muslim countries doesn't even occur to them so they are oblivious to the idea that ingredients must be checked.
I specifically asked someone senior in the national food regulating authority in India, and they said indigenous and foreign companies are very sensitive to local religious and cultural norms. I asked about E numbers also, and he said they have confirmed that alternate ingredients are used for Indian markets. Companies want to make profits. It makes sense that they ensure compliance. He told me that if I am buying something made in India for the Indian market, there is little chance of haram ingredients being used. They are also careful to explicitly label the use of animal products because of the Hindu majority. He did caution about products on the shelves that originated outside the Indian subcontinent (US, UK, Europe).

So, to say that Muslims in Muslim countries (especially South Asia) consume more haram than Muslims in non Muslim countries is a very controversial statement. The majority of even the not so religious Muslims here are very particular about avoiding haram food.
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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 12:05
sharjan8643 wrote:
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India is not a Muslim country
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They are also careful to explicitly label the use of animal products because of the Hindu majority.
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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 12:57
abu mohammed wrote:
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India is not a Muslim country
India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh have essentially similar institutions. Similar regulatory bodies exist in Indonesia and Malaysia. The Gulf countries have their own systems in place.

This statement
Quote:
People in Muslim countries consume more haram than those in non Muslim countries
remains problematic.
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 14:44
sharjan8643 wrote:
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I was at many locations in a Muslim country and my kids wanted to eat sweets, especially when we were out.

My daughter bought a pack of sweets from a stall in a Muslim only area. When she came back to me with the sweets, I told her that they were haram.

She said she knew that they were haram in the UK, but because we were in a Muslim country, she assumed it was Halal and on top of that, the person selling the sweets also said they were Halal.

Of course I double checked and then went back to the stall and confronted him.

I asked why he sold haram as Halal. He said that nothing he sold was haram. He insisted everything was Halal and that it would be virtually impossible to find anything haram in their country.

I pointed out almost 90% of the items he was selling on his stall was haram!

When he didn't believe me, I asked him what pork gelatine was. He didn't know!

90% of the items on his stall alone contained pork!

When I asked locals, they said they never heard of anyone ever reading any ingredients. Everything was just supposed to be Halal.

I was disgusted due to the fact that there are no restrictions on selling this sort of stuff.

This was just one stall. I went into shopping malls, local shops and so on. All with the same items.

Locally produced items were Halal, but as we know, people prefer things that are not local!

So yes, Muslim countries consume haram and they don't even know it.

I have also experienced this in India. In India, we would go out to any restaurant to eat and we never asked if it was Halal because they were all Muslim owned.

In India I was also told everything was Halal. But, items that are not locally produced were problematic. They contained haram ingredients too. In India, they were also surprised that we read the Ingredients of everything we eat, and we had to show why!

It's unintentionally eaten, but I think the Muslim population has allowed this happen out of ignorance
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 16:07
abu mohammed wrote:
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But, items that are not locally produced were problematic. They contained haram ingredients too.
Quote:
He did caution about products on the shelves that originated outside the Indian subcontinent (US, UK, Europe).
We're both saying the same thing.
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#8 [Permalink] Posted on 31st December 2021 16:31
I'm afraid I'll have to agree with brother abu mohammed here. From my experience in Muslim countries the people selling these products have been had more indifferent attitudes towards finding out whether the product they are selling to a Muslim is Haram or Halal, than the people in non-Muslim ones. And these days with rampant import of anything that is manufactured by the non-Muslims, it is just as much likely if not more to find actual Haram products in Muslim countries.

In a non-Muslim country deen of the seller cannot protect us from Haram products, but the laws of their country can. In a Muslim country it is hard to rely on even that.
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#9 [Permalink] Posted on 1st January 2022 01:28
fod1083 wrote:
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I'll have to agree with brother abu mohammed here.
Do you mean this statement?
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People in Muslim countries consume more haram than those in non Muslim countries

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#10 [Permalink] Posted on 1st January 2022 02:20
sharjan8643 wrote:
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I would add "unknowingly and unintentionally"
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#11 [Permalink] Posted on 1st January 2022 03:46
abu mohammed wrote:
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People in Muslim countries consume more haram than those in non Muslim countries unknowingly and unintentionally
This statement above is still problematic and debatable.
Quote:
It is my opinion that people in Muslim countries consume more haram than those in non Muslim countries unknowingly and unintentionally
This statement above is an opinion and you are free to express this opinion, and it does not necessarily invite debate.

So which of the two is it?
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#12 [Permalink] Posted on 2nd January 2022 03:17
abu mohammed wrote:
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Brother that was a great explanation. Let me follow up with some questions.

1) What is a good resource for learning which E-numbers are Halal, Haram or Makruh?

2) Many items actually don't have E-numbers; the ingredient names are listed. What is the best way of learning about the Halal/Haram status of different ingredients?
(a google search can at times tell you if it is plant based or animal based, but some ingredients can be sourced out of both plants or animals.)

3) On many items, in the ingredients list I see listed "Natural Flavors". This is quite ambiguous. Would I have to contact the manufacturer for detail on its source?

4) How would you approach a scenario where ingredients are not listed. For example, a pastry at a coffee shop? Or even getting flavored coffee at say Starbucks.
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#13 [Permalink] Posted on 2nd January 2022 03:27
sharjan8643 wrote:
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Based on my observation, Abu Mohammed's statement does have some truth to it unfortunately. In a Muslim country like Pakistan, there are really no laws or regulations to ensure that the processed food products you can buy at any store, is Halal. And it doesn't cross the minds of most people, even the religious, practicing ones, that these products could be Haram and one should be careful. In fact, many Ulama also are not aware of this fact. It simply does not occur to these people that these processed food products could be Haram.

Yes, when it comes to actual meat itself, then people are aware that it must be Halal.

Among the Muslims living in the West, the majority is probably not aware of this issue either. But the religious inclined Muslims are aware and careful. I am sure the Ulama are aware also.

It is not a matter of caring or not caring. It is simply a matter of knowledge and awareness.
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#14 [Permalink] Posted on 2nd January 2022 04:42
muslimman wrote:
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Based on my observation, Abu Mohammed's statement does have some truth to it unfortunately.
If the observations are limited to Pakistan, then the statement should read
Quote:
People in Pakistan consume more haram than those in non Muslim countries unknowingly and unintentionally
Countries with large Muslim populations such as Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Bangladesh, the Middle East should be exempted from this blanket statement. The statement quoted above is still a very problematic one to make, because it is worded as a statement of fact. If it were worded as a statement of opinion, I would have no objections. I cannot fault anyone for having an opinion. Do you see what I'm trying to say?
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#15 [Permalink] Posted on 2nd January 2022 05:33
sharjan8643 wrote:
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Relax brother. It is not much of a big deal and not even the main topic of discussion.
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