Did you know that as of April 4th 2016, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFAI) requires all halal claims on food labels, packaging and advertising to be accompanied by the name of the organization or person that certified it as such?

The new rules come after repeated complaints from the Muslim community about companies labelling “halal” on food products without certification.

What is halal?

According to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of Canada (IFANCC), Halal in Arabic means “lawful” or “permitted”. Its opposite is haram, meaning “unlawful” or “prohibited”.

It is Muslims’ standard for dietary food and consumables. Pure and clean things are considered halal except for the following:

  • Swine/pork and its by-products
  • Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
  • Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah (God)
  • Alcohol and intoxicants
  • Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
  • Blood and blood by-products
  • Foods contaminated with any of the above products

Even though many items are clearly halal or clearly haram, some are not. Items considered questionable or suspect are often qualified mashbooh, meaning “doubtful” or “questionable”. Foods with ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, etc. would be mashbooh because, more often than not, the origin of these ingredients is not known.


As per newly introduced regulation, food labelling and packaging needs to be show the name of the certification organization or person that certified the product as halal. There is a dozen of such certification organizations in Canada. The two largest are the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of Canada and the Halal Monitoring Authority. Both are based in Toronto.

Should you wish to add the halal claim on your product, be sure to validate the organization’s reputation as the new regulation doesn’t supervise the certifying organizations. Fly-by-night certifiers could show up on the market and jeopardize your credibility.

Labelling and packaging your food products accordingly

The Muslim population in Canada counts more than 1 million people and is growing. These consumers look specifically for halal certified products. That certainly doesn’t exclude all the other consumers looking for quality products.

Regulation now requires food manufacturers to follow guidelines and for some to update their packaging, labelling, packaging and advertising accordingly.

In either case, it’s your opportunity to get creative! Like mentioned in a previous post, timing is perfect for a packaging upgrade.

Food manufacturers, take a look at your packaging to make sure your labels are compliant. Consumers are looking for certified products.

Looking forward to see your newest creations!