Halal practice

Halal products are foods that are allowed to be consumed under Islamic dietary guidelines

By Uswa Ahmad, PharmD, BCACP, Clinical Pharmacist

While walking through the grocery store these days, you may notice an increasing number of "halal certified" foods on shelves. Halal products are foods that are allowed to be consumed under Islamic dietary guidelines. In fact, the word "halal" means "permissible" in Arabic, whereas, "haram" means unlawful or prohibited.

Generally, in Islamic law, food will be considered halal if it is free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming. Impermissible foods include:

  • Pork and pork by-products (such as pork gelatin).
  • Meat from animals not slaughtered according to Islamic dietary law.
  • Alcohol and foods prepared with alcohol.
  • Vanilla extract prepared with alcohol.
  • Foods containing blood and blood by-products.

In order for meat to be halal, the animal must be slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines. The process involves reciting a prayer, slaughtering the animal in a way that reduces pain/suffering and allowing the blood to drain completely.

Just like with any faith, individual Muslims may have different interpretations of Islamic dietary laws and thus, you may see some variation in practices. Some Muslims even feel comfortable turning to kosher-certified products when they cannot find halal meat at the store. Last week, we learned about Kashrut, the Jewish dietary laws. These rules have some overlap with Islamic dietary laws!

The halal food market is a fast-growing one! In 2016, it was estimated that sales of halal food in grocery stores in the U.S. reached $1.9 billion, a 15% increase from 2012. To the relief of busy Muslim millennials, such as myself, halal food is now easier than ever to find!

If you are exploring options in health care, let us introduce you to the team at CHA by calling 617-665-1305 or visit www.challiance.org/cha/find-a-doctor.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.