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Food safety measures in Islamic jurisprudence – Part 4

Jun 09, 2022

It is apparent that Halaal food production should comply with both Halaal fundamentals and food safety requirements. Therefore, it is important to consider how Halaal standards and policy makers and especially certifiers would be able to successfully enforce the implementation and maintenance of these two great areas and accordingly educate the food handlers.

Since Islamic Jurisprudence also offers some more detailed guidance relevant to food safety, these will be discussed over the next two days, as they constitute an inherent part of the Halaal and Tayyib concept.
The food safety measures have been grouped into four categories:
1. operational environmental hygiene
2. personal hygiene
3. hygiene and faecal contamination
4. other cross-contamination issues

These all lead a food handling company towards a better food safety performance and with that enables them to prevent harm coming to the consumer.

Before elaborating on the specifics, it is important to understand, that purity, cleanliness and hygiene are centric in Islam. Purity, cleanliness and hygiene have been emphasized from its onset, since among the earliest revelations to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the verse “And so your clothes purify.” The phrase “pure”, includes every kind of purity like good character, clean clothing, personal hygiene and cleanliness of the surroundings among others. Therefore, in general food-handling setting, its surroundings and food-handlers should maintain a constant state of the best possible purity. Cleanliness and purity from a food safety perspective lead to a higher level of hygiene and through that potentially lower occurrence of food borne disease.

Operational environment hygiene
Surroundings have a great impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Clean environment is also a crucial aspect in achieving a high level of food safety. . Contamination of the food-handling environment has to be prevented, which in turn enables to prevent the contamination of products.

A fundamental aspect of Tayyib is cleanliness and hygiene of the surroundings. It would be identified from the Noble Ahaadith that Islam is very much sensitive regarding the environment outside the food establishment in the normal routine course of life, thus it can be imagined that how more it will be thoughtful with respect to operational environment. From a food safety perspective, it must be well-known that Islam emphasizes the importance of achieving and maintaining a hygienic food-handling environment. The Hadith of the Prophet ﷺ clearly highlights this.

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏ الإِيمَانُ بِضْعٌ وَسَبْعُونَ أَوْ بِضْعٌ وَسِتُّونَ شُعْبَةً فَأَفْضَلُهَا قَوْلُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَدْنَاهَا إِمَاطَةُ الأَذَى عَنِ الطَّرِيقِ وَالْحَيَاءُ شُعْبَةٌ مِنَ الإِيمَانِ
‏It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira RA that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:

Faith has over seventy branches or over sixty branches, the most excellent of which is the declaration that there is no god but Allah, and the humblest of which is the, removal of what is injurious from the path: and modesty is the branch of faith. [Sahih Muslim]

The Hadith clearly highlights the importance of removing anything that is disturbing to human health, environment and common taste, like garbage, waste, sewage among others, from the surroundings. Therefore, food-handlers should have proper respect for their work place, keep it clean and tidy. The food-handling area and equipment should be kept in a hygienic state, free from excess things and take precaution against pest, waste accumulation, leakages and any kind of mess and negligent storage. Food-handling establishments’ floors should allow adequate drainage and cleaning. Overall, the design and layout should create a hygienic environment to conduct proper food handling operation.

Tomorrow in sha Allah we will look at the other hygiene factors.

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