When it comes to Halal food and meat in particular, many people are uncertain of the facts. Although heavily documented around the world, media portrayals and old controversial stigmas have left halal food with an unfavourable reputation that has been hard to shake.
Here at Mullaco we sell a range of halal produce, and now with more and more popular food chains such as KFC and Nando's using halal meat in their dishes, we thought it was important to break down exactly what halal is and bust the common myths attached to it. Read on to discover more about this old Islamic tradition that is an essential part of the Muslim faith.
So what is Halal?
Halal actually means "permissible", or "lawful" in Arabic. Halal food is therefore a broad term for any produce that is deemed permissible to eat according to the Islamic law set down in the Quran. It contrasts with "Haram", which is anything deemed forbidden according to Islam, such as pork and alcohol.
What makes meat Halal?
The term Halal is often used to describe meat and poultry that has been slaughtered in a particular way. Tradition dictates that any halal meat must be slaughtered by hand, blessed by the slaughterman with a one-line blessing such as "Bismillahi-Allahu Akbar" (In the name of Allah the greatest), and killed in a certain swift movement that ensures that all the blood is drained rapidly from the body.
Because Muslims are prohibited from consuming flowing blood, the halal method of slaughter prevents this meat from being deemed haram, whilst also producing cleaner meat that is free from excessive microbial growth. The animal must also have been healthy before it was killed.
Why is there controversy surrounding this type of meat?
Whilst European law requires animals to be stunned before slaughter, the UK has exemptions for halal and kosher killing - which is primarily where issues with this type of meat arise. Despite between 84 and 90 per cent of animals killed for halal meat still using electric stunning anyway, up to 16 per cent are killed whilst conscious and may not have been slaughtered in a way that animal welfare experts consider humane.
When it comes to larger supermarkets selling halal meat, however, this issue is avoided entirely. Animals are still stunned before they're slaughtered in a manner deemed appropriate by the British Halal Food Authority, making the only real difference between halal and non-halal meat sold in supermarkets the fact that halal meat has been blessed during the slaughtering process.
Are animals treated differently in halal slaughterhouses compared to non-halal ones?
With the exception of whether or not stunning is used before killing the animal, there is no practical difference between either type of slaughterhouse.
For all of your halal produce, head to our Halal Meat section here.