The packaging is one of the crucial elements in logistics activities and to ensure the integrity of the Halal status for the contents and the packaging, activities such as production, preparation, storage, and transportation should instill the Halal practices.

The issues encountered on Halal packaging are Halal certification on the packaging, the Halal methods of product handling, and Halal traceability of the packaging. Halal refers to Islamic principle that is part of Shariah and is mentioned in The Holy Quran. Shariah is the code of conduct or the way of life for all Muslims to follow and applies to every activity including eating. Halal is defined as permitted, permissible, and lawful. The opposite of Halal is Haram (non-Halal) which means forbidden and unlawful, in the context of Islamic law. Halal is normally associated with food products but it is more than just concerning about food.

There is a saying in the Holy Quran:

“The Halal is clear and the Haram is clear. Between the two are doubted matters concerning which people do not know whether there are Halal or non-Halal. The one who avoids them in order to safeguard his religion and his honor is safe”.

Among Halal items, packaging will protect goods from any type of non-halal cross-contamination. Halal packaging includes the use of Halal-certified packaging materials. Additives and other components of the food packaging may leach into the food and adulterate the food inside the package and threaten the Halal integrity of the food. The use of animal-derived additives may carry the risks of associated diseases like mad cow disease. To prevent this, the polymer resins having additives derived from Halal sources and a method for ensuring that the Halal integrity of the polymer resins is protected throughout the entire processing or manufacturing process.

Meat packaging industry:

In the aspect of packaging, the Meat industry playing a pivotal role in halal (permissible) food according to Islamic injunctions and Sharia. Packaging of those meat products also holds tremendous importance i.e that how these meat products are packaged and even after halal slaughtering which materials are to be used as their packaging material. Meat products can be deteriorated and can even become nan halal if packaged incorrectly. Flexible packaging films, vacuum bags, shrink barrier bags, thermoforming, vacuum skin, modified atmosphere packaging, sealants, barrier resins, polyethylene, Ionomer, Polyamide, EVOH, and PVDC are widely used in food packaging of meat products.

The origin of materials used in the packaging of meat products is what needs to be specified for sure. Animal-origin such as animal fats or gelatins are utilized usually in the production of plastic packaging and the Halal status becomes doubtful because there are no scientific ways to know whether the animal was slaughtered according to Islamic Sharia. During packaging foods, workers use disposable gloves for hygienic practices but one might doubt about the material used in the composition of gloves made from animal substances that will lead to uncertain Halal status.

The casing of Meat Products:

Casings provide shape to meat products, for example, sausages, and serve as processing utensils, as primary and secondary packages during transportation.

There are specific types of meat casings.

 (1) animal regenerated collagen

 (2) cloth

 (3) cellulosic casing

Out of these, Cellulose casing is considered halal because they are plant-based. Whereas animal casings are obtained from intestines of animals like sheep, goats are halal but those taken from pigs (non-halal animals) are condemned for Muslim consumption. One more thing that is of prime importance is that these halal animals whose viscera are to be employed in the casing and packaging of halal meat, ought to be slaughtered by the Halal butchering method.

Collagen casings made from either finely ground cattle skins or pork skins Collagen casings for halal use must be obtained from halal slaughtered animals and halal animals as stated above in the case of cellulose. These were few substitutes of Halal casings that can prove beneficial in halal packaging of meat products.

Halal Composition Detection:

Product composition detection system consists of three primary processes namely, segmentation, and normalization. The second is the process of character recognition using CNN. The third is the process of combining characters into text and matching with a list of raw materials not Halal. The character recognition accuracy uses very well, which is obtained up to 98.08%. However, the process of combining characters and matching the list of raw materials makes accuracy only 50%. The obstacle is due to spaces between letters and small font size and uneven surfaces. Using AdaDelta and SGD optimization models have almost the same performance.

Situation Handling:

Some concerns related to food packaging, in terms of Halal packaging, Halal logo is doubted as there are reports that non-Halal product (pork) is packaged and labeled as Halal. Food packaging must not be made from the non-Halal substance as it is considered “najis”. Apart from the Halal logo, product handling is also an issue for Halal packaging. The Halal status does not only consider the product ingredient, it also takes into account the supply chain and logistics aspects of Halal food products. For instance, during transportation and storage in warehouses, segregation between Halal and non-Halal food products must be highly practiced. Furthermore, the tools to handled packaged food products must not be mixed together with the ones used for non-Halal products. To deal with such religious concerns, there should be at least one well Trained Muslim worker present who has the best knowledge about shariah perspectives, during the preparation and packaging process to assure maximum protection from non-Halal elements and also avoid the chance for cross-contamination.

By Amna Bibi

Food technologist from NIFSAT dept. The University of Agriculture Faisalabad.