N.C. State’s new system for halal diets
A color-coding initiative makes it easier for Muslim students to identify permissible foods.
After seeing an increase in students who eat in accordance with Islamic law, North Carolina State University Dining launched a new system to help those students identify halal foods in its cafeterias. The initiative was led by Lisa Eberhart, N.C. State’s director of nutrition and wellness, who noticed more students marking “halal” as an allergy or special dietary need.
“First, we identified pork products and initiated the use of a pink pig icon to help students figure out which dishes to avoid,” Eberhart says. Pork is not halal, as prescribed by the Quran. “And we are using red-handled pans and other utensils for items that have never contained meat.”
Eberhart worked with the Muslim Student Association on campus to make the accommodations in the dining halls. The Association also asked that a pork-free pan be available at all omelet stations, to ensure an omelet has not been touched by bacon, sausage or ham. The red-handled omelet pans are now in place. Designations are used in a couple of other situations too, says Eberhart. Vegan and vegetarian items are clearly marked with icons, as are all the major allergens. And purple kitchen tools are used for allergy food prep.
While separating pork from the mix is a start, Eberhart hopes to color-code or label other halal products by the end of the year, including the halal meats the university currently purchases.