The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to ban products with a halal tag has caused controversy. According to a notification issued by the Yogi Adityanath government, the production, storage, distribution, and sale of food products with halal certification are prohibited. However, this ban does not apply to products intended for export.
To understand the issue better, let’s take a look at what halal certification is and why Uttar Pradesh has banned it.
Halal is an Arabic word that means “permissible.” In the Islamic belief system, it is the opposite of “haram,” which means “forbidden.” Halal primarily relates to dietary practices, especially the processing of meat. Certain cosmetics and medicines are also considered forbidden because they contain animal by-products that Muslims are prohibited from consuming.
While pork is the only meat specifically forbidden by the Quran, halal meat must also be processed and stored in accordance with Islamic law. The criteria for halal meat include the manner of the animal’s death. Vegetarian dishes are generally considered halal unless they contain alcohol. The prohibition also extends to cosmetics and medicines that contain animal by-products. However, there is an exception for situations of necessity, where a Muslim can consume non-halal food if it is a matter of survival.
In India, there is no mandatory halal certification system, and there are no specific labeling requirements for halal food products imported into the country. Some private companies provide halal certification, indicating that their products are permissible. These organizations are recognized by the importing countries. The Ministry of Commerce has stated that meat products can only be exported as “halal certified” if they are processed and packaged in a facility certified by a body accredited by the Quality Council of India.
The Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to ban halal certification is based on the belief that it creates confusion and is not permissible under Section 89 of the Food Safety and Standards Act. The government argues that the authority to determine the quality of food lies with the institutions mentioned in Section 29 of the Act, which check the relevant standards. The order also states that there are no provisions for marking halal certification on labels in government rules related to drugs, medical devices, and cosmetics.
The ban follows a complaint alleging a potential conspiracy to favor products with a halal certificate, which allegedly harms the business interests of other communities. The complaint suggests that issuing halal certificates for items meant for the general public not only seeks unfair financial benefits but also aims to sow class hatred, create divisions in society, and weaken the country.
One of the organizations mentioned in the complaint, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind Halal Trust, has dismissed the allegations as baseless and stated that it adheres to government regulations. The trust emphasizes that it is registered with the National Accreditation Board for Certification Bodies under the Quality Council of India.
The ban on halal certification in Uttar Pradesh has sparked a debate on religious practices, consumer rights, and economic implications. The response to this decision and its potential consequences remains to be seen.