1. Are all product packaging safe for Halal consumers?
Let’s start by defining what you mean by product packaging, an example of primary packaging would be the plastic that your food comes wrapped in. Secondary packaging would be the box the food is packed in, and tertiary packaging would be the outer carton containing packs of boxes. As a Halal consumer, you are likely to handle primary and secondary packaging in your day-to-day life. Not all product packaging is Halal compliant because there is a possibility that some animal protein may be in the actual material, i.e. in plastic or aluminium foil or in the glue used to hold together the secondary packaging, i.e. the cardboard box.
2. Could you give a few examples of types of packaging that might not be suitable for use by Muslims?
Any packaging material has the potential to be not halal compliant if animal by-products are used during the manufacture. Let’s take the simple aluminium kitchen foil as an example. During the processing where large slabs of aluminium metal are pushed through huge rollers to turn them into sheets of aluminium, a mixture of water and lubricant is sprayed on the metal to keep it cool. The lubricant may be of animal origin.
Another example might be the use of animal-based glue to hold the edges of carboard packaging in place.
Sometimes slip agents or anti-static agents routinely sprayed on plastic bags during their manufacture, may be of animal origin.
3. Are there ways that the industry can provide Halal packaging? Could you give some examples of how?
Consumers have a voice, if there are enough people lobbying for animal free packaging, I am sure the industry will take notice and use animal free alternatives.
Halal certification bodies (HCBs) must also make sure that their Halal certified products come in packaging which is free from animal-based ingredients.
4. How can we be sure that the packaging that we use is safe for Halal consumers?
This is where credible Halal Certification Bodies (HCB) play a crucial role. The HCB must have knowledgeable and experienced auditors who will not grant a Halal certificate without checking all paperwork and relevant statements of Halal conformance from manufacturers of packaging materials.