How Easy is it To Find Halal Food in a Non-Moslem Countries? (With 2 Example Countries)

How Easy is it To Find Halal Food in a Non-Moslem Countries? (With 2 Example Countries)

Each religion has it’s own unique customs, Moslems (adherents of islam) for instance only allowed to consume halal foods. Everyone has the rights to follow any religion they want, or maybe even not following any. Considering these unique customs of each religion, it would cause a couple of problems if one religion believers was the minority in a country’s whole population, inequalities are bound to happen. So in this article we would like to examine if islamic practice of halal food is good enough even in a country where Islam is a minority.

Halal and Halal Foods

First let us introduce you to the terms, and you need to know that both “halal” and “halal food” is a seperate terms. Halal is a term which designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law, basically what Islam told you what you are allowed to do. Halal has an opposite term which called “haram”, an object or an action which is forbidden to use or engage in according to Islamic law, anything that Islam told you to avoid at all cost, such as pre-marital intercourse.

Now that we knew the base term, next we move to the meaning of halal food. It means any foods that moslem are allowed to consume, as prescribed in the Holy Qur’an (Islam version of the bible). Halal consumption isn’t just limited to food and meat products, but also include cosmetics, personal care products, pharmaceuticals, food ingredients, and food contact materials. To wrap up the definition, halal foods is simply foods that are free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law.

Every consumable is halal, almost, except of the following: alcoholic drinks, pig meats (pork, bacon and ham), gelatine (fish gelatine is fine), non-halal animal fat (lard for example), carnivorous animals, and any food that’s contaminated with all the products above. However, it’s not simply limited just to avoid the haram consumption, animals must be slaughtered and processed with clean equipment and machinery. It is also important for the butcher to pray before the slaughter, simply by saying “Bismillah” (in God’s name) and “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest).

The complete slaughtering rules are including: the butcher must be an adult moslem, pray before kill, always start with the animal’s throat (cut all blood vessels), the spinal cord must not be cut, animals must be well treated before being killed, animals must not see other animals being killed, do not sharpen a knife near the animal’s precense, and let the animal bleed out until completely dead before further butchering. Now that you have learned about the meaning of halal, let’s examine whether these example countries is up to the standards.

Halal Foods in USA

The good news is, moslem population in United States isn’t so small after all, it keeps growing in fact. So with the growing demography, the demands of halal foods would increase too. At first, most of halal food sales occur through traditional markets, but halal sales through supermarkets, grocery stores, hypermarkets, and convenience stores are increasing quickly in the US. This will leads to the requirement of halal certifications for any market that distribute meat and retail foods, so there’s no inequality for moslems.

As we explained the rule of halal food above, commercially processed foods and meat slaughtered by strangers cannot be assumed to be halal easily. That is the concern in non-Muslim countries like the US, in which the role of halal certification is important. With this logic, we can assume US-based companies need these certifications if they want to make money abroad (Southeast Asia and the Middle East/North Africa regions, where most moslems live), major international food corporations should begin to produce halal food.

Turkish butcher in the US that sells halal food and meat
Mediterranean & Turkish butcher in the US that sells halal meat

Speaking of inequality in a certain demographic, you can read: Indonesia is Not Ready for Special Needs Education: 3 Minutes Reading of Harsh Inequality

Halal Foods in Japan

Islamic population in Japan is very small, so it would be a struggle for them to find halal food (and the fact that all food packaging is written in Japanese characters make it worse). In recent years however, Muslim tourists has been increasing considerably. Japan in general are very tolerant towards different religions, including Islam, so a couple of business and travel institutions have ramped up their efforts to improve themselves for a better circumstance of their Muslim friends. They are trying to make a Muslim-friendly environment, but it’s not easy.

Grocery shelves that prioritize halal products in a Japanese supermarket
Grocery shelves that prioritize halal products in a Japanese supermarket

They provide prayer rooms and halal food options, but without halal certification agency, services such as restaurants largely have to do their research and figure things out on their own. There are only a small number of halal food producers and halal restaurants in Japan currently, and even with those halal food options, restaurants still serves alcohol beverages (because they won’t make money if they didn’t, drinking is part of their culture). There are some restaurants that label themselves as “Muslim-friendly” and offer a halal menu.

However, their dishes were likely prepared in the same kitchen as non-halal dishes, with a risk of contaminating the halal dish with non-halal ingredients. Alternatively, tourists can just visit Southeast Asian and the Middle Eastern style restaurants along with some vegetarian restaurants. Outside of the major cities, Muslim-friendly restaurants are impossible to find, so you might need to visit a supermarket, buy ingredients, and cook your own meal. It’s a safer option considering how a seemingly halal convenience foods contains non-haram ingredients.

For instance, an innocent looking sushi may have rice wine (mirin) mixed in with the rice. Delicious ramen and various other meat dishes may contain ingredients pork, lard, and rice wine. Even in normal pre-packed foods like soups, bread, snacks and some desserts may contain alcohol, gelatin, animal fat based margarine or other haram ingredients. As such, it’s quite hard for Moslems to enjoy Japanese meals, compromising the ingredients and way of cooking, ergo cooking your food from scratch is the safest option.

Source: What is Halal? A Guide for Non-Muslims, By Islamic Council of Victoria

Scope of Halal food industry in USA, By Islamic Services of America, November 1st 2019

Basics for Muslim Travelers in Japan, By Japan Guide

1 Comment

Post A Comment