Halal food has been getting bad press lately in the Western world and many Muslims are confused regarding the halal food regulations in the United States—some not knowing if there even are halal food regulations in the land of the free. In a nutshell, current sales have catapulted to $20, a number that has tripled since 2010, according to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America.
Halal food regulations are relatively sparsely practiced among the states in America. That being said, only 9 out of the 50 states have halal food regulations. For starters, Illinois passed the Halal Food Act in 2002 and although this regulation may seem straightforward at first, it has proven to be quite the opposite. The confusion is partly caused by the varying opinions of different Islamic bodies on what halal truly embodies. Despite that, the general consensus of the act is that it prohibits the misrepresentation and false labelling of the products.
There have been many cases of mislabelling of food items that has caused public outcry—both from the Muslim and non-Muslim communities in America. In 2011, the McDonald’s franchise had a lawsuit filed against them for allegedly claiming that their nuggets and sandwiches were halal when they were in fact, not. The fast food chain had to pay a whopping amount of $700,000 to have the suit settled. McDonald’s remained with their stand that they did not mislabel their products, despite paying the compensation.
Under the regulations like the one practiced in Illinois, merchants who mislabel their goods are subject to sanctions under the Consumer Fraud Act established by the Department of Agriculture. This act also requires sellers that sell both halal and non-halal food items to display a window sign stating this combination of halal and non-halal food and to put a signage on their wall stating that these kinds of food are sold in the store. Utensils used to handle non-halal food shall not be used to process halal food to prevent cross contamination.
8 other states in the US have similar statutes to Illinois. The states are California, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia. All said states practice more or less similar regulations with only a few differences that are not very significant. With the rapid increase of Muslims in America, it would only be fair if more states started enforcing halal food regulations for the benefits of its residents—Muslims or non-Muslims alike.