Image Courtesy: Shutterstock (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Halal Industry

IFANCA’s multifaceted approach to food security and health equity

This article is produced and sponsored by The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA®). It was first published in the State of the Global Islamic Economy 2023/24 report produced by DinarStandard. The report can be downloaded here

Before the terms food and health security were mainstream ideas, IFANCA made it its mission to address these concerns. Access to halal foods is directly tied to food security, as many Muslims will forego nutrition security to adhere to religious dietary guidelines, regardless of their socio-economic class.

When IFANCA started back in 1982, the goal was simple: make halal products more accessible for those who want them. We did not set out to be a halal certifier. Our goal was to help consumers by giving them the resources they needed to navigate the thousands of products that filled grocery store shelves. 

Eventually, we were approached by companies that wanted help ensuring that their products were halal, including finding and sourcing halal ingredients. The more we were asked, the more we realized that halal consumers needed more than just a list of halal/haram ingredients; they needed halal-certified products to be available and easily accessible throughout their day-to-day lives.

This brings us to where we are today. As a leading halal certifier for over forty years, IFANCA is made up of industry experts and thought leaders in Islamic jurisprudence. We have played a leadership role in establishing best practices for halal compliance. Our standards have passed rigorous vetting and are broadly accepted by Islamic scholars and practicing Muslim consumers. 

Halal is an institution and a comprehensive quality management system with clear religious guidelines that have been practiced for many centuries. These guidelines span the supply chain from farm to point of delivery, which includes—but is not limited to—procurement, preparation, production, service, sanitation, storage, and handling.

Through certification, we advance our goal of making halal products available for all. Consumers can find halal-certified products with our Crescent-M logo at retail outlets worldwide, like Abbott Nutrition medical nutritional products, Organic Valley dairy products, Saffron Road frozen meals, and Wonderful Pistachios. We pride ourselves on being the trusted authority on halal and are constantly striving to do our best for consumers.

Just as halal certification is crucial to our mission, so is the social impact work we do to support the global community. As a not-for-profit organization, we strive to promote food security, health and nutrition equity, and sustainability as well. 

Our work to promote food security encompasses many different initiatives. IFANCA provides scholarships and grants to students and universities across the United States. We want to help equip the next generation to solve today’s problems and give them the tools they need to advocate for their food-insecure peers. 

One example of this work is at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. In 2016, we provided the university with an endowment to create the Food Diversity Innovation Program. This program teaches students about food diversity in all its forms, from religious and ethnic foods to allergen-friendly, organic, and more. Through this program, future food scientists gain an understanding of the different dietary needs of people worldwide. This type of education is crucial to ensuring that all populations have access to food that meets their individual needs.

IFANCA promotes equity by advocating for the needs of the community in all walks of life. This work extends beyond food and pharmaceuticals to vaccines and supporting efforts to eradicate polio. We support institutions working to make the world a better place for everyone, whether or not someone is a halal consumer.

As part of this commitment to equity, IFANCA works with administrators to create halal-certified foodservice programs so that no student goes hungry simply because they can’t find food that suits their religious beliefs. Earlier this year, we hosted food equity experts for the panel “Ensuring Equitable Access to Halal Foods for Kindergarten-12 and College Students: Stories from Food Equity Advocates” at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB) 2023 annual conference. The panelists included leadership from the United States Department of Agriculture, executives from the foodservice industry, and representatives from the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

IFANCA’s social impact work also focuses on sustainability. We believe in returning to the basics and preserving the world in the best way that we can, which is why we support the Zaytuna College Center for Ethical Living and Learning (ZCELL). ZCELL focuses on the tie between Islam and sustainability and teaches students how to incorporate ethical living practices into their lifestyles. At ZCELL, students learn about regenerative agricultural practices like permaculture and become involved in producing their own food. 

At IFANCA, we strive to live ethically and perform our work in such a way that the benefits extend to the global community. When you purchase an IFANCA halal-certified product, know that you support an organization with service at its core. We will continue to serve producers who strive to create halal-certified products, as well as the consumers who need these products. We will serve the environment by being good stewards of the Earth we have been given, and we will serve the global community by continuing to fund and assist with food security and health equity programs worldwide. 

Whether it is in halal compliance, sustainability, food security, or health and nutrition equity, we look forward to having the opportunity to work with you.

Author Profile Image