Halal is to Muslims what kosher is to Jews.
Like the Jewish system of kashrut, halal has its roots in scripture. The Koran defines the Muslim system of dining, proscribing what and can not be eaten (most notably pork and alcohol) and the ritual slaughter of animals for consumption.
After years of ignoring the halal sector, there is a surge of interest from mainstream food producers and chefs.
The world’s Muslim population numbers 1.6 billion, and they are a younger and (in some places) wealthier group than ever before. The market for halal food is estimated to be more than $600 billion annually. This buying power has transformed a formerly small-scale local and regional network into one that has captured the attention of non-Muslim multinationals. The food manufacturer Nestlé, international supermarket chain Tesco, and fast food giant McDonald’s are now the biggest players in the halal economy.
This new generation of Muslims has a taste for western foods like pizza and hamburgers, and the fast food industry has been quick to respond with Muslim-friendly options. McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, and Kentucky Fried Chicken use halal meats wherever there are significant Muslim populations both in the US and abroad. Domino’s has even come up with a pork-less halal pepperoni for its pizza.
The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America provides halal certification indicated on product packaging with a ‘crescent M’ symbol. Learn more about halal foods on the council’s website.
American Halal is pioneering organic foods for the Muslim market with its ritually slaughtered, hormone and antibiotic-free, organic meats.
Two applications make it easy to locate halal foods:
Halalpal‘s database of markets and restaurants is searchable by zip code. Listings include user reviews and maps. Halapal is available as a free iTunes download.
Zabihah tracks the worldwide halal marketplace— all manner of eateries, markets, manufacturers, certification authorities, airlines, and hotels. Zabihah is available as an application for download to most mobile devices and your car’s GPS.