Halal beef is red meat that is allowed for consumption by Islamic law. There are other halal foods, not just beef, including food ingredients specifically certified for use in a Muslim diet. Haram food is food that is prohibited for consumption by Muslims. For example, pork and alcohol are prohibited.
Foods that are halal are identified using strict criteria. There are halal certifications provided by the Muslim Consumer Group for Food Products (MCG). MCG is a non-profit, Islamic organization that provides lists of halal food products in the US and Canada as well as certifications to the food industry. Not all products that bear the halal certification symbol are halal. Fortunately, specific information is widely available that allows consumers to make appropriate selections.
The MCG collects data about foods through various methods. Grocery stores are visited and products examined for their listed ingredients and for kosher symbols. If there are questions about a particular ingredient, MCG contacts the manufacturer to obtain additional information regarding the sourcing of the ingredient. Not all kosher foods qualify as halal, because they may be produced with haram ingredients. Such products include those containing gelatin from pork, beer batter, naturally brewed soy sauce, and wine vinegar.
Halal beef must have been slaughtering according to a specific procedure to qualify as halal. The method consists of making a swift, deep incision to cut the animal without damaging the spinal cord. Additionally, there is also a requirement in proper Halal practices that the head of the slaughtered animal must be aligned with Qiblah, the direction Muslims face while praying. Slaughtered animals must be healthy. Generally only experienced Muslims perform slaughtering. Meat that has been slaughtered using this process is also referred to as zabihah meat for following sharia, the Islam code of conduct.
Certified halal beef usually bears the halal symbol on the package. The manufacturer of the halal beef has paid a fee, answered a questionnaire, and submitted to site and plant inspection before obtaining the certificate. The questionnaire inquires as to the origin of the meat, processing aids that are used, and other information. The facilities are inspected to ensure that practices produce halal beef, and the manufacturer signs a contract for maintaining the halal certification.