Halal Catering Basics: Things You Need to Know

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Many, especially in the Western world, are still unsure of what constitutes a Halal food. Halal translates to lawful or legal and is, at its most simple, a term that’s assigned to any action that’s permissible under Islamic law. The term is extended to food to denote all foods that are consumable under Islamic law, much in the same way that the Kashrut indicates what foods a member of the Jewish faith can eat.

While the term is used widely throughout Islamic countries to denote any illegal activity under Islamic law, it has become synonymous with food in the West. The laws concerning Halal foods are quite complex and don’t merely relate to the method in which the animal is slaughtered, as many believe.

There are several foods that Muslims can’t eat under the Halal guidelines, according to the Qur’an. These include:

Pork

Blood

Any animal that isn’t slaughtered in the name of Allah

Carrion

Animals that have been killed by methods such as strangulation, beating, or attack by another animal

Alcohol and other intoxicants

While these rules are strictly upheld in many Muslim societies, the Qur’an also states that when in a position where no other food is available, a Muslim may eat non-Halal food.

The focus of many people on the Halal laws regarding food is the slaughtering method. This relates most directly to the consumption of blood, as the method of slaughter is intended to prevent this.

The method of slaughter is known as Dhabiha and is essentially a ritual slaughter of an animal that makes it legal for Muslim consumption. The ritual disregards fish, and most other sea-life, relating mostly to cattle and other animals bred on land for slaughter.

The method itself consists of a fast and deep incision with a sharp knife on the neck of the animal, cutting both the jugular vein and carotid arteries, while keeping the spinal cord intact. This causes instant death to the animal in question, killing it painlessly. A blessing in the name of Allah is made on the animal, and thus, the food becomes Halal or legal to eat.

People’s view of Halal foods takes many forms. Strict Muslims insist that the blessing in the name of Allah is a hugely important part of the process, and food isn’t legal for consumption without it. Other Muslims are more lenient in this regard, feeling willing to eat any meat if all the blood has been drained from the carcass.

The issue is a contentious one among many Muslims, as is the issue between the similarities between Kosher foods and Halal foods. Debate still rages on whether Kashrut standards are interchangeable with Halal standards, with the main sticking point being the blessing made in the name of Allah.

Serving halal foods takes a great effort on the part of restaurants. But then, due to the growing demand for halal foods, a lot of food manufacturers and restaurants such as Jollibee Halal don’t mind taking up the tedious process.

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