It happens to the best of us. . . A Muslim brother or sister walks into one of the major American Fast Food outlets and orders a vegetarian burrito, pizza, or veggie burger. He/She picks up the order, and sits down to eat. Just as they are about to take a bite from the meal, or after they already start eating, they notice ‘it.’ A pepperoni sausage, piece of meat, or other non-halal ingredient such as oil used to cook non-halal meat has found its way inside of their ‘vegetarian meal.’ What is the person to do? Remove the meat and keep eating or get the meal replaced. Either way, it is not a pretty situation!
This is the challenge Muslims face eating at food establishments which serve non-halal meat products along with halal. There are thousands of halal restaurants in America which have a partial halal menu. Sometimes, one has to ask for the ‘halal’ menu item specifically, or else he/she receives the non-halal version. Some restaurants sell halal products and pork in the same facility.
In all of these situations, the possibility of cross contamination always exists. Workers sometimes do not practice strict hygiene or food preparation guidelines and one cannot supervise the production process at all times at major fast food outlets. It is difficult to maintain strict separation between halal and non-halal food items prepared in the same facility, cooked in the same oil, and stored in the same place. There is no guarantee that the situation described above will not happen to me or you.
A Muslim should not compromise their faith and place their good deeds and worship in jeopardy by frequenting restaurants and establishments which sell non-halal meat products as well. Instead, he/she should do their best to consume 100% halal products at all times which are produced in exclusively halal production facilities. This is the best way to avoid all doubt and preserve one’s spirituality. This completely eliminates the possibility of cross contamination. Therefore, the solution is that Muslims must insist on eating at restaurants which only sell halal meat products verified by a reliable halal organization.
The Halal Advocates of America have initiated a halal verification system known as the Halal Food Standards Alliance of America (HFSAA) and has set halal standards for slaughterhouses, meat stores, and restaurants in America. The Halal Advocates believe strongly in transparency regarding halal processes and being open with the Muslim public. For this reason, the HFSAA halal standards are public information and accessible to all on the Halal Advocates website. One of these standards is that a restaurant must only sell verified halal meat in order to receive halal approval. The purpose of this standard is to promote halal integrity and encourage Muslims to open up their own fast food restaurants which are exclusive devoted to halal. In this way, one can consume their ‘halal’ pizza from the 100% halal restaurant in peace without having to worry about a pepperoni popping up from somewhere!