Hashing out halal

Published in FSD Update

As incorporation of halal-prepared menu items increases along with the Muslim population in the U.S., the member interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Muslims in Dietetics and Nutrition (MIDAN), recently hosted a webinar to discuss halal dietary needs within foodservice operations. During the Exploring Halal Healthy Food Service Operations webinar, Asma Ahad, director of halal market development for the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA), and Nadeem Siddiqui, resident district manager for Bon Appétit at Washington University, in St. Louis, explored challenges with and solutions for creating a healthy halal foodservice operation.

Key takeaways from the webinar included:

  • The term “halal” is applicable to all consumables, including food, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics;
  • “Halal” means “permitted” in Arabic; “Haram” means “not permitted” and includes items such as pork, alcohol and amphibians; “Mashbooh” means “questionable” and includes emulsifiers and gelling agents;
  • Though halal laws are clear, the level of observance varies from person to person, and the terms and practices of “halal” and “kosher” are not interchangeable;
  • The U.S. Muslim population is estimated at 8 to 9 million, and on average is 20 years younger than the average U.S. consumer;
  • Due to freshness, flavor, variety, health and interest in global flavors, halal is not limited to Muslim consumers—it has broad appeal among non-Muslims as well; and
  • Like other dietary restrictions, consumers eating halal should eat with the community and measures should be taken to ensure that halal options are available alongside non-halal options.