A British cafeteria worker lost her job after an “unintentional error” of serving non-halal food to Muslim students at the Moseley School in Birmingham. Despite having children of multiple faiths at the school, all 1,400 students are served halal meat only regardless of their religion.
Last year a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in South Africa was forced to rehire a worker that was fired for bringing a non-halal meal, consisting of uphuthu and bean curry to work for his lunch. The group that owns several restaurants in the franchise around South Africa had a policy that restricted employees from bringing food to work because they follow Islamic laws.
McDonald’s Restaurant in Dearborn, Michigan has now stopped serving halal items after settling a $700,000 class action lawsuit that was brought against the company alleging the company had served a non-halal chicken sandwich to a Muslim customer. Halal chicken had been served to Muslim customers since 2005.
Many prisons, universities, restaurants, and American retailers such as Costco offer halal products. The website, Zabihah lists restaurant and grocery chains that have one or more outlets that serve halal food or products in several nations including the U.S., the U.K, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, and Australia.
Halal is an Arabic word meaning “lawful” or “permissible.” In Islam the term is used to designate items seen as permissible according to Islamic sharia law and covers not only food and drink but also all matters of daily life. The opposite of halal is “haram,” an Arabic word meaning “sinful” which refers to any act that is forbidden by Allah.
Food in Islam can be haram if it includes blood, alcohol, meat or any byproducts from a forbidden animal (pigs, birds of prey, carnivorous animals), and meat or any products of an animal that has not been slaughtered according to sharia law.
Halal Choices describes the ritualistic slaughter, “To be halal certified the animal must be facing Mecca, have its throat cut while still alive and then ritually sacrificed by a Muslim who recites a prayer dedicating the slaughter to Allah. Because the animals must be slaughtered alive, stun guns are often not an option as they can kill and animal before the heart pumps out all the blood.”
Halal certification is big business in western nations, and in order for a company’s food to be certified the companies must pay a fee to the Islamic certifying agency. Halal certification most often is related to meat products, however sometimes companies will have food certified as halal even if the designation is not necessary. For instance the Sydney Morning Herald reported in March that Cadbury chocolate Easter eggs had been certified as halal.
The article further revealed that western companies are being forced to pay for halal certification even if the product would already be considered halal. As an example, Capilano Honey when asked why their product was halal certified replied, “While we appreciate that honey is considered halal under Islamic law, it our customer’s requirement to provide halal certification in order for us to conduct business with them.”
Consumers in Australia can see a listing of halal certified products on a website called Halal Choices. In Australia, some of the international companies are listed are Heinz, Purina, Nestle, and Kelloggs. Similar listings are not available for other countries, however the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, a certifying agency has a current list that consumers in the United States can search of products this particular agency has certified. The listings do not include halal products that may be certified by another Islamic group.
Serving halal products to schoolchildren who are not Islamic is a form of dhimmitude. It places the halal food in a superior position to western food, and in order to be certified as halal, it is also economically supporting the religion of Islam. Pray that parents of children of other faiths will insist their children have a choice of the food they are served.
Pray that western companies are not forced to certify their products as halal in order to do business in their own nations.
One thought on “Ramadan 2013 – Day 14 – Is Some of the Food We Eat Blessed by Allah?”
Excellent article! Thanks for clarifying aspects of halal food that probably few folks really understand.