How to Verify for Halal on Your Own, in a World Full of Colourful Goodies You Want to Eat ft. Glaze.sg
by Jumaiyah Mahathir Jun 09, 2017
Our previous article on the Geylang Serai
Ramadhan Bazaar concluded with a note to all readers that if the stall is not verified by us as Halal Certified or Muslim-owned, then we advise you to verify it for yourselves.
The next question then is - How do I verify it for myself? How do I know that some stalls or shops fit my ‘halal tolerance’ level as a Muslim? We would like to share our verification thought process here so that consumers like you can verify any food shops that you come across and need to decide if it’s halal for you to consume.
For things you guy off the shelves (products):
Check for the Halal Certification and/or Logo.
I saw some videos going around Facebook where the producer of that video asked the stall keeper;
Q: Is your stall Halal Certified? A: No we are not, but all our ingredients are Halal.
Q: How do you know that the ingredient is halal?
A: Oh we see the HALAL CHOP! So, what is this mysterious halal chop? If these are the chops that you see, then I’m afraid to disappoint you by letting you know that these 'halal' chops below are invalid.
These logos are not accredited. Anyone could have printed it on their own products for the purposes of monetary gains. Sadly, I have witnessed the abuse of this logo, printed on products which are not halal just to attract the Muslim consumer dollar.
It is safer to treat these logos as if they are not printed on the products and go straight to observing the ingredients that the product contains in order to verify if it is halal for your consumption.
*halalfoodhunt.com occasionally runs classes on how to read food labels to determine halal risk conducted by a previous halal consultant with a degree in Chemistry, so let us know if you want to be notified of future classes below!
What are the valid logos?
For starters, look for the MUIS logo for locally produced products. For imported products, the halal emblems usually bear the name of the issuer of the halal logo. This means that the product has been verified to be halal by the relevant authorities and entities. Here are some recognised logos for your closer inspection. All of the logos above are International Halal Certification Marks. Think of them as brands (and logos) that represent halal verification checks as represented by each of their own organisations. Should there be cases of logo misuse, it could constitute as misleading the public which could result in legal action by the logo owners.
For when you're considering eating outside:
Check for the one Halal Certification of the entire eating establishment (ranging from food shops to restaurants)
In Singapore, Halal Certification under the Eating Establishment Scheme covers the entire food preparation process, including (but not limited to) ingredients, prepping areas and utensils used, covering halal status of the entire stall / restaurant / kiosk outlets.
When a Halal Certificate is issued, it is also tied to the name and address of the establishment that applied for it. So check that the address displayed on the halal certificate is also the address of where you are reading it. The name on the halal certificate should also match the name of the shop. Here’s a legit Halal Certificate, courtesy of one of the merchants listed on halalfoodhunt.com, UYI Savoury Squids, for your closer inspection.
Also, remember to check for the expiry date to ensure the certificate is still valid!
No halal cert, or their owners don't "look Muslim" enough for you?
Look for Halal Risk Factors to determine if it fits your halal 'comfort' levels
As per our previous article, halalfoodhunt.com checks if the owner of the food establishment is Muslim in the event that it does not have a valid Halal Certificate. This is mainly because the default responsibility of ensuring that the food is halal then falls on the Muslim-owner.
But, what if you can’t verify the ownership of the stall / restaurants / kiosk? If you can't, then it is up to you to verify the halal status of the Food Establishment for yourself. Here's a guide to help you! Once you're done going through the guide, read on for a case study on the application of this halal verification thought process.
Case Study: GLAZE.SG
Stall number 70. Tanjong Katong Complex. Facing Tanjong Katong Road
Glaze.sg is one of the shops that was identified as not Muslim-owned and not halal-certified but insisted that all the ingredients used in their shop were Halal-Certified. We had the pleasure of meeting the good people behind the delicious food sold by Glaze.sg, Renkun and Jasmine. It was their first time even having a food stall so were quite amazed at their energy, open-mindedness and willingness to learn.
Glaze.sg were completely open with us about their halal status of their food and was very eager for us to visit them to verify the halal status of their suppliers for ourselves. They were confident that they would pass our 'consumer level halal inspection' - if there was such a thing, haha! Once at their stall and upon their insistence, I looked through everything they have in their stall. We entered the stall with the supervision and permission from the very friendly shop owners Jasmine and Renkun. Here’s what the team did to verify the halal status, and eventually we decided that we were totally fine with consuming the food that sold at Glaze.sg. Step by step, here’s what we did. By sharing this, we hope that you, as discerning consumers should be able to use this knowledge for your own verification too!
Step 1: We looked at the Glaze.sg menu
Pro Tip: The shorter the menu the better. When Glaze first wrote to us requesting to be included in our list, my first question to them was: What do you sell? I asked that question because all I wanted to see, as Round 1 verification, were the items on their menu. Imagine my happiness, when I only saw three items on the menu! Glaze sells (1) Ice Cream in a Cup (2) Ice Cream in a Cone (3) Ice Cream in a Bun Upon close inspection of their social media accounts we saw this:
Once you've observed the menu, break it down to the ingredients that they use to prepare the food. In this case: Ice Cream, Ice Cream Cone, the Bread, and the toppings. All of these items should be considered for halal-verification. BIG PLUS POINT: Glaze.sg doesn’t sell any meat items in their shop. This means that Glaze.sg is a lower halal risk stall, perfect!
Step 2: We identified & verified the necessary ingredients
Off the top of our heads, we were now thinking:- (1) Who is the supplier for their Ice Cream and are they Halal-Certified? (2) Is their bread halal? (3) Are the toppings halal? On the three questions above, it's not that hard to verify. Take a peek behind the ice cream display, and you'll see the name of their supplier along with their halal logo clearly visible:-
The Ice Cream Supplier
(Due to business sensitivities, Glaze.sg requested for us to remove the identity and contact details of their supplier) Have a quick chat with the owners and they'll tell you that all of their ice cream comes from 1 supplier. Also, this supplier also supplies their freezer and ice cream display. And, this was exactly what we saw. It was the same supplier's logo... on EVERYTHING! Ok, so the ice cream is halal - now what about the bread?
The Bread Supplier
We are able to release this image from the original packaging of the bread. We have since advised them to put this also on display somewhere in their shop too. Look at this ingredient packaging, and you'll get the name of the supplier.
(Due to business sensitivities, Glaze.sg requested for us to remove the details of the bread that they use.) Once you get the name of the supplier, just do a quick check online to find out of they are halal certified. My quick google search tells me that Foodedge Gourmet Pte Ltd is Halal Certified by MUIS. So that's perfect, too! We also asked about the ice cream cone, and that came from the same supplier as the ice cream too! Ice Cream, check! Ice Cream Cone, check! Bread, check! Next: Toppings!
This is the part that was most risky. Mainly because, Renkun and team would have likely made their own purchases, and it will be up to them to choose the right ingredients at the Supermarket.
The toppings that they had available were Oreo, Chocolate Chip cookies, cornflakes and Fruity Pebbles. We proceeded to ask about their toppings too. Since they weren't able to produce the Halal Certificate nor the original packaging of these toppings that we normally find in the supermarket, we gave them a bit of homework. We tasked them to find and inspect the original packaging of the items they bought, very much like how we verify our halal food when we go to the supermarket, and send us photos of it. I was pretty surprised that they were so game for this. Renkun even said that it was quite a learning experience for them too! And this was what they almost immediately emailed us:-
Bottom Right: Halal Certificate Logo from Thailand
Bottom Right: Halal Certificate Logo from Malaysia
Centre Right: Halal Certificate Logo from Indonesia
Upon their own inspection of their ingredients, Renkun and Jasmine realised that they couldn't verify the halal status of the Fruity Pebbles, and have since removed it from their shop. We have also advised for these packaging to be placed somewhere in their shop so that consumers like you and me can find these easily visible. At this point, I'd like to just put a note about how careful Jasmine and Renkun were when they dealt with halal ingredients - right down to even using disposable spoons for their toppings. Once they knew that they couldn't halal-verify the fruity pebbles, they threw everything away to ensure that there was no contamination. The container is also now not in use.
Step 3: We observed their processes and food handling
From what you as the consumer can see, observe if the stall keepers are 're-processing' the halal ingredients. Are they frying anything? Are they mixing it in a batter mix? Are they doing ANYTHING at all to the halal ingredients? From what we saw of Glaze.sg, it was a pretty clear-cut: They scoop and put in a cup to serve to customers.There was only one bit though: Preparing the ice cream in the bread involved them toasting the bread, as shown below.
Part of halal is also requiring that all utensils used in the food preparation be ritually cleansed (sertu) in the event that the utensils and food prepping equipment be have been in contact with non-halal food before it. So, we also asked about their equipment. And to that, both Jasmine and Renkun exclaimed, "Everything is new! We bought them just for the stall because this is our first time setting up shop!" Seeing how the stall was also kept really hygienic and super duper clean, we, as consumers, felt comfortable with their shop too!
Step 4: The Decision - To eat or not to eat.
The team was satisfied with everything that we found, especially the part where we could verify that all their ingredients used was Halal Certified. But this still begs the question: Will we include them in our list of Halal Certified & Muslim Owned merchants? Unfortunately, the answer is still no. Glaze.sg will still fall under the category where we ask our readers to verify for themselves. We visited them and we verified them for ourselves, and we found that we're okay with the level of halal assurance that the shop owners could give us. We know that there are other halal consumers who may still not be assured of their halal status and will still require a Halal Certificate before they purchase, and we respect that. Halal tolerances differ from one person to another, but one thing we know, Glaze.sg met ours. So here's the beauty that we had and it was down right delicious!
The most heartwarming experience coming out of our meeting and verifying Glaze.sg for ourselves was the spirit of neighbourliness that we observed between Glaze and their fellow neighbouring stalls. When our article came out on the first weekend of Ramadhan, their Muslims neighbours were so concerned for Renkun and Jasmine that they were the ones who wrote in to our emails and Facebook pages vouching for the halal status of the food sold by Glaze.sg, their non-Muslim neighbouring stall. You can't see their faces, but there was one such neighbour in front of me (my head was blocking him), and the lady in the blue jacket was also a Muslim neighbour from a nearby stall concerned for their neighbour's shop.
As a publication, we also felt comforted by this, knowing that their Muslim neighbours will also help clarify and ensure that the halal knowledge is shared with our non-Muslim friends so that they are better able to take care of the halal status of their food. I have much love for our tiny island seeing how we look out for each other in this particular episode.
Glaze.sg is an easy example to cite - mainly due to the simplicity of the items they sold. We can't say the same of other shops in the same category, especially if steps 1 to 4 as we described above becomes hard for us to execute as consumers. If this is the case, we would simply walk away and purchase from other stalls. I hope we have managed to clarify what we mean by 'you have to verify for yourself' before you consume.
My late Ustaz used to say, there is more halal food in the market than what is outrightly labelled as Halal-Certified. For you to be able to identify them, you need to be equipped with the knowledge so that you are able to verify it for yourself. I'd like to point out that the above knowledge (along with other more intricate details not mentioned in this article) that I have shared did not come to my awareness until about 5 years ago when I joined the halal industry
by accident. When first exposed to such intricate knowledge about the food I eat, I was pretty taken aback that this knowledge was not made available publicly.
My main thoughts were: Why did I not know this all my (Muslim) life?.... Needless to say, there were many 'Astaghfirullah' moments since then. It is my opinion now that the feeling of uncertainty ('waswas' ) exist where there is insufficient knowledge. However, when you do have enough knowledge, 'halal or not' becomes clear as day. If you're interested in attending or being notified of future Halal Literacy Classes held by halalfoodhunt.com, please indicate your interest here.
P.S. halalfoodhunt.com is a local startup run by Singaporean Muslims. If you see the need for Halal-Verification services within our community, we would like to ask for your help to ensure that we continue to exist. You can support us by: 1. Purchasing the only discount and rewards card in Singapore which is exclusively for Halal Food Consumers a.k.a the FRIENDS Card and use it at our many halal food establishments listed with us. You get up to 20% off at over 100 halal places and online food businesses! 2. Asking your favourite neighbourhood halal food eatery and caterer to list with us on halalfoodhunt.com. 3. Using halalfoodhunt.com when you're in search for places to eat at!
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