Halal yogurt is a dairy product produced according to Islamic Law. Like other types of yogurt, halal yogurt is produced from the fermentation of milk using bacteria. It comes in a wide variety of forms, as its halal status does not determine what type of yogurt it is, but only the products used to create it. This means halal yogurt ranges from plain yogurts to creamy fruit yogurts to traditional Greek yogurts.
There are a number of factors that determine if a yogurt is halal or haram. Halal means lawful and haram means unlawful. In general, it means food products must not contain pig products such as meat, oil, fat and gelatin, and they must not contain traces of blood, alcohol, carrion or meat slaughtered in a non-Islamic fashion.
Deciding if a yogurt is halal or not is a tricky business for people who are just learning to shop for halal products. Even when all of the ingredients are listed, it is not always possible to know about potential cross-contamination from the machines used to manufacture the yogurt. One safe way a Muslim can be certain that most haram products have been excluded is to buy vegetarian-friendly yogurts. These will definitely have no blood, carrion or meat products.
The key to ensuring the yogurt is completely halal is by creating a new form of whey and, more specifically, using rennet enzyme. Rennet is an enzyme that digests a mother’s milk and is extracted from within the mucosa in a calf’s fourth stomach. As the cow has not been slaughtered according to Islamic tradition, the enzyme is haram. Manufacturers have, instead, developed a range of halal whey, which curdles the cheese and yogurts just the same.
As well as using halal whey, a halal yogurt must use halal gelatin if it is to use gelatin at all. This means using a gelatin not made from pig bones. Again, vegetarian-friendly gelatin is the best to use and the least confusing from an Islamic moral standpoint. Yogurt producers seeking to be halal can also buy gelatin from halal manufacturers that guarantee the gelatin is made from bones of cows sacrificed to Allah.
Apart from those factors, most kinds of non-alcoholic yogurts can be halal. Most yogurts use sweet products such as caramel, chocolate and honey or fruits such as strawberries and bananas. They can be eaten alone or applied to meals, so long as those other meals also conform to Islamic Law.