The Muslim-American community was riled when McDonald's announced the discontinuation of halal nuggets and chicken at two of their outlets. The announcement relight the spotlight on inconsistent standards and fraudulent advertising of products permitted under Islam.
There are now thousands of halal-compliant food industry businesses in the United States. All of which offer Muslim Americans a full range and choice of products that only early generations could have dreamed of.
However, the market usually comes to halt with a pitfall. There is an enormous lack of clarity concerning what constitutes halal. As a result, Muslim Americans have been left confused. Moreover, many well-known incidents of fraud have led many halal consumers to feel vulnerable to corrupt stockist. Many are now wary and suspicious about the sources of the products that they are purchasing.
These problems have resurfaced since McDonalds latest announcement. The decision was apparently reached after an incident in 2011 that accused McDonalds of falsely advertising non-halal chicken as halal. Although the franchise paid $700,000 to settle the dispute, they deny and wrongdoing.
McDonalds aren't the only ones to face such conflict. The Orange County, Calif district were rewarded $527,000 in a settlement with Super King Market back in 2011. The store was accused of falsely storing mixed and generic meat as advertised halal products. Again, the company denied any wrongdoing.
People believe that part of the problem stems from companies trying to meet the growing demands of the meat market.
There are now over 2,300 grocers in the U.S. that stock halal products now compared to just ten stores back in 1970. Also, over 6,900 restaurants now serve halal food. In 2011, U.S. citizens spent around $11 billion buying halal products, according to the nutrition council.
Although many are happy and grateful for the broad range of choices now available, a lot are still skeptical about sellers that try to take advantage of their religion to profit from products that aren't halal.
People blame the lack of legal protection for the unlawful sales. An absence of legislation means those merchants can continue selling non-halal products while advertising them as halal.
Many organizations in the U.S. state that inspectors visit slaughterhouses and manufacturers to ensure that the process meets the conditions of labeled halal products. Only a few states including New Jersey, Virginia, and Michigan have implemented laws that punish companies for the false advertisement of halal products.
Given these problems, what is the best solution for halal consumers? Shahed Amanullah, creator of Zabihah, the world's largest Halal restaurant guide, believes that education in the answer. He encourages halal eaters to check websites like zabihah.com for honest reviews and not to be afraid to question business owners about their halal products. Halal consumers should always feel free to query owners about their products by asking for clarification about their meat. This way, consumers can make an honest and informed decision about what to eat and where to eat it.