Hydrocolloid supplier TIC Gums has announced the Halal certification of its production plant, allowing the firm to enter the niche but growing market for foods meeting the needs of Muslim consumers.
The company said the certification was awarded following an audit from the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA).
It relates to products throughout TIC Gums' portfolio, from dairy stabilizers to gum systems used in salad dressings, bread and beverages.
The move will allow the firm to expand the market for its gum and stabilizer ingredients, which it has been supplying to the food industry for almost a century. Gums can be used to modify texture and are often used as a source of soluble dietary fiber in functional foods. Many gums are derived from natural sources such as tree exudates, seeds, and seaweed.
"This certification is an important milestone in the company's expansion into more international markets and was also requested by food companies that are manufacturing foods to meet the needs of the growing Muslim population in the US," said the firm.
The certification will not add any additional costs to any of the TIC Gums products.
Halal foods are those that comply with Muslim dietary law regarding sources and preparation of food.
Food companies are increasingly positing their products to meet the sensibilities of particular consumer groups, be they based on religious beliefs, such as Halal or Kosher, ethical choices, such as vegetarianism, or related top health concerns such as allergen-free.
The halal market is an area of particular growth at the moment, as second- and third-generation Muslims who have grown up in Western countries wish to eat the same kinds of foods as their non-Muslim peers - but without compromising their Halal diet. Products targeting this group must be labeled as meeting Halal criteria and therefore be suitable for the estimated 1.5bn Muslims worldwide.
Though the global market for Halal food has never been measured, industry estimates of its value range from $150bn (€110bn) to $500bn (€368bn).
According to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, all foods are Halal (Arabic for lawful or permitted) with the exception of those considered Haram (unlawful or prohibited) - that is: swine or pork and its by-products; animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering; animals killed in the name of anyone other than ALLAH (God); alcohol and intoxicants; carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears; blood and blood by-products; and foods contaminated with any of the above.
Foods containing ingredients such as gelatin, enzymes, emulsifiers, are considered Mashbooh (questionable) because the origin of the ingredients is not known.