The availability of restaurants that can cater to Muslims' needs is key to attracting visitors to a city. One of the first criteria that Muslim travelers look for when they plan their trip is to find out whether they have Halal or Muslim-friendly restaurants in the city. As most countries also have at least a small Muslim community, having Halal restaurants is also crucial in increasing their food consumption expenditure.
Given the growth of the Muslim consumer market, it is of utmost importance for the restaurant owners who wish to cater to the Muslim segment to have a comprehensive understanding of the concept of Halal food. This article explores some of the terminologies, how the food is assured Halal, misconceptions, and other services offered to better cater to the Muslim diners.
The most crucial criterion for Muslims when choosing to consume food from a restaurant is to know how it assures the food is Halal. There are three main methods restaurants convey that their food is Halal:
Restaurants provide Halal assurance by getting a third party to audit and certify that they serve Halal food. Not having a Halal certification does not mean that the food served is not Halal. However, a certificate provides a higher level of Halal assurance and easily identifies a Halal restaurant.
Muslim-owned/managed restaurants assure that the food is Halal due to them being Muslims.
The restaurant guarantees the customers on their own that the food they serve is Halal. Self-assurance comes in different forms:
Some of the issues related to these types of Halal assurance are explained below.
Many businesses worldwide have seen the rising demand from Muslims for independent verification of Halal assurance. Halal certification bodies perform this task of systematically verifying that products or establishments (restaurants) follow Halal requirements. These bodies generally conduct certifications within a particular geography. In some countries, these bodies are regulated and accredited by a government agency.
The restaurant does not need to be owned or managed by Muslims to get a Halal certification. However, most certification bodies require that some of the staff, especially in the kitchen, are Muslims.
The best way to provide Halal assurance is to get a Halal certification from an independent third-party. They essentially certifying the claim of the restaurant that all food served on the premises is Halal. Restaurants that are issued certificates by a Halal certification body that confirms their food as being Halal are known as Halal-certified restaurants.
Most Halal certification bodies require that the restaurant only serves Halal food and does not serve alcohol to provide a Halal certification. This will not allow restaurants that serve Halal food and serve alcohol to get a Halal certificate. Such restaurants can opt to get one of their kitchens Halal certified. This will allow them to assure Muslim diners that although they serve alcohol, the food served comes from a Halal-certified kitchen.
Such kitchens are exclusively used for the cooking of Halal foods. They maintain complete separation of Halal and non-Halal foods, ensuring no cross-contamination.
Halal logo is a Halal certification body's signage to indicate that the restaurant or kitchen has been halal-certified by them. The restaurant displays such signage to make it easier for diners to know that the restaurant or kitchen is Halal-certified.
If a restaurant does not have a Halal-certificate but is owned and managed by Muslims, it also gives some level of Halal assurance to Muslims. When there are no Halal-certified restaurants, the next option Muslims will look for is Muslim-owned/managed restaurants.
Muslims can consume all-natural products as long as they are not contaminated with alcohol, non-Halal ingredients, dressing, or seasoning. Some Muslims may choose to dine in strictly vegetarian restaurants even if they are not halal-certified or Muslim-owned.
Most seafood is considered Halal. Like vegetarian restaurants, some Muslims may choose to patronize these restaurants even if they are not certified or Muslim-owned.
Some restaurants claim they serve only Halal food, although not Halal-certified or Muslim-owned. As Muslims are primarily concerned about the meat is Halal, these restaurants use Halal certified meat. However, they may or may not have a clear view of the Halal-ness of all the other ingredients they use. For example, Muslims are also prohibited from consuming alcohol. Use of ingredients containing alcohol or alcohol components will render the food not Halal.
In Southeast Asia, some restaurants use this term to indicate that the food is suitable for Muslims. However, there is much ambiguity with this term. Although pork is a crucial component of what makes food non-Halal, there are also many other elements to ensure the food served is Halal. For example, not having pork, but serving other meat such as lamb, which is not slaughtered according to Islamic law, is not Halal.
These restaurants have some of their menu items marked as Halal, but both Halal and non-Halal food preparation is done in the same kitchen. The main concern for Muslim diners will be how they avoid cross-contamination. Halal food needs to be cooked with a different set of cooking equipment from the ones used for cooking non-Halal dishes. Utensils such as forks and spoons also need to be differentiated. Due to the considerable challenge of ensuring no cross-contamination, most Muslim diners will be reluctant to patronize these restaurants.
It will be extremely rare for Muslims to patronize a restaurant that has some dishes marked as halal and also serve pork in the restaurant.
Linguistically it means "permissible friendly restaurant". Some restaurant stakeholders use this term to indicate that the food served is suitable for Muslims. However, this term conveys an uncertainty to Muslims that the food may not be really Halal.
As the case with "Halal-friendly restaurants," some restaurant stakeholders use this term to indicate that the food served is suitable for Muslims. However, it also conveys some level of uncertainty to Muslims on the level of Halal assurance of the food served.
Having the restaurant staff and, in particular, the chefs trained/accredited on Hala food will help better cater to Muslim diners. It will allow the restaurant to have an in-depth understanding of what halal food is and also increase the level of trust with Muslim diners.
Besides the food that is served, Muslims are also attracted to restaurants that provide some space for them to perform their prayers. This is especially beneficial if there are no mosques or prayer rooms nearby the restaurant. This will allow Muslim diners to enjoy their meals without being worried about where to perform their prayers.
CrescentRating's restaurant rating system rates restaurants based on their level of Halal assurance.