The second notion to tackle in our series, Myths About Halal Food, is one that questions the cleanliness of halal foods (including the process of making it).
I am completely saddened to hear people say or think that “Halal food isn’t clean” and that their experiences with ‘halal’ meat markets or restaurants were horrific. That has never been my overall experience in the nearly 15 years that I’ve been patronizing halal markets or places where halal food is served. In fact, most of the best food and dishes I’ve ever had have come from Muslim-owned restaurants and stores.
Regardless, if people have just one bad experience, it’s enough for me to hope to resurrect their perception of halal, in the event they would ever associate the term with something negative.
A couple of explanations, which have nothing to do with the essence of halal food or the tenets of Islam, might have to do with the differences in food presentation and/or handling among store personnel.
Business owners might not be accustomed to the food handling operations, regulations, and standards set forth by the USDA as they were held to in another country; others simply practice poor business ethics of their own accord, and perhaps are quite ignorant or negligent of their obligations to consumers as well as to their religion (i.e. serving food that is truly halal and tayyib, or clean and pure).
Regardless, there are no excuses for this to happen. Islam is full of guidelines on cleanliness in both the private and public realm and it is for us as Muslims to show by example what it means to implement that in everyday life.
I’m confident that most stores are improving in quality and adherence to regulations that keep everyone safe. As long as demand for quality halal products increases, we’ll keep everyone on their toes to deliver the best products and services possible, insha’allah.
Do you think there should be stricter regulations coming from within the halal industry to provide checks and balances over halal meat markets and restaurants?
Some of my favorite halal markets: