Halal is an Arabic word that means "permissible." In terms of food, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law. For a meat to be certified "halal," it cannot be a forbidden cut (such as meat from hindquarters) or animal (such as pork.)
The slaughter of a halal animal is called "zabihah" and there are certain guidelines to follow:
- Allah's (God's) name must be pronounced during slaughter.
- The instrument must be very sharp to ensure humane slaughter. The animal must be slit at the throat.
- The animal must not be unconscious
- The animal must be hung upside down and allowed to bleed dry. Eating blood is not halal.
- These steps must be accomplished by a Muslim or the People of the Book (Christian or Jew.) Many observant Muslims find kosher meat acceptable.
- The animal must have been fed a natural diet that did not contain animal by-products.