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Halal v. Kosher [moved from General Topics]

Please excuse my ignorance.

Could a Chowhounder please explain the difference between Hallal and Kosher meat to this Catholic chick. There are many Hallal markets in my area. Thanks!

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  1. I don't have an expert explanation, but my first inclination would be the difference between clergy (qualified rabbi would certify the kosher food and I'm guessing an imam would certify halal food). The kosher food is based on the laws of the torah, while the halal food is based on the laws of the koran.

    Found this also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparis...

    1. I read somewhere (with all the expertise that implies) that in college cafeterias, some Muslim students often eat the kosher food because it follows the same rules closely enough that it counts as hallal. But I'm sure there are MANY opinions on that.

      I know there are different sets of rules that are called kosher by different groups of people, so what is kosher to one is not kosher to all. I bet that goes for hallal too.

      1. Here are some links that give a good overview -

        For kosher - http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm You can also go to some of the organizations that certify foods and establishments as kosher - like www.ou.org or www.crcweb.org

        For Halal - http://islam.about.com/cs/dietarylaw/... - I am sure their organizations out their that also will certify food has halal but I do not know who they are-

        The upshot of both is there some similarities but they are not the same-
        1) there are foods that are prohibited such as pork and shellfish where
        2) the slaughtering of the animal
        3) the preparation of the meat

        For kosher meat there addiitonal restrictions and prohibitions such as not mixing milk and meat

        As I understand it, a person who keeps halal will eat kosher meat while someone keeps kosher will not eat halal due to the added restrictions of kosher -

        1. Weinstein, those are great links, thanks. None of the Jewish members of my family "keep Kosher", and what I know about Hallal foods, sadly, wouldn't fill half a page. Thanks also tartinet and pescatarian. Interestingly, my H always orders the kosher meal on long flights not because he's Jewish but because he says it's better quality food.

          8 Replies
          1. re: thegolferbitch

            Happy to educate - you are seeing a lot of grocery stores that are dedicating whole sections to kosher foods - including kosher bakeries, butchers and hot foods not only to satisfy the jewish customer but muslim as well -

            1. re: thegolferbitch

              My husband routinely asks for kosher meals on international flights for the same reason. One exception was on a flight to Malaysia where the secretary changed his request to a halal meal which seemed prudent to her.

              1. re: cheryl_h

                and are the meals actually better? I used to order kosher meals when flying because they were better but stopped becaues I was finding them to be worse and worse, not that meals in economy are ever good, but the kosher were really inedible.

                1. re: orangewasabi

                  His theory was that having fewer kosher meals to prepare made them better than the masses of regular meals. I used to order vegetarian meals occasionally on the same principle. But I wouldn't argue that the food really is better, it's all pretty awful.

                  1. re: cheryl_h

                    Kosher meals are frozen. Airlines, other than El Al, do not have kosher kitchens so any food prepared there would inherently be unkosher. Also, the meals must be certified by a commonly recognized kashrut organization in order to be acceptable to the widest possible cross-section of the kosher community. This kind of volume becomes possible when one or two processors is making the food for all the airlines.

                    Contrary to popular misconception, kosher does not necessarily mean better quality. Check out the Kosher board to see how many complaints about lousy kosher food are out there.

                  2. re: orangewasabi

                    I'm pretty sure most airlines purchase kosher and halal meals from an outside source, i.e. a local kosher restaurant or caterer. Not worth the expense to have a separate kitchen dedicated to a low-volume item. With the exception, of course, of El Al airlines, who probably has their own kitchen. So, depending on the airport, you're at the mercy of the local providers.

                    I used to work with a F&B purchasing mgr who had worked for a private airline caterer. I'm pretty sure that's what they did.

                    1. re: rednails

                      I think that's why they were so bad -- not only were they airline meals, but they had to withstand even longer storage and transportation standards. Resulting in food-like substances that were truly gross.

                      1. re: orangewasabi

                        Another possibility I just thought of: they may have used frozen meals. There are a few foodservice companies that have frozen entrees etc.

                        The catering company I work for uses a local kosher caterer, and their quality is excellent. Quite pricey too, I might add.

              2. Kashrut involves a lot more rules and regulations on what qualifies as clean, and therefore edible, meat. The rules for ritual slaughter and type of meat are a lot more stringent than halal, or more properly, Zabiha rules. For meat to be halal (halal meaning "licit" in Arabic), it need merely be slaughtered in the name of Allah in the prescribed way, drained of blood and not be considered unclean (i.e. pork). Kosher meat is slaughtered according to ritual laws (schechita), drained of blood and must either be of fish with scales or cloven-hooved animals which chew cud.

                Confusingly, kosher food is considered halal (if Zabiha meat is unavailable), but halal food is not necessarily considered kosher.

                Additionally Kashrut governs foods other than meat. So you have kosher wine, kosher cheese, and if you keep your kitchen kosher, there are a whole other set of rules to bear in mind as well.

                8 Replies
                1. re: JungMann

                  Not only is halal food not neccesarily considered Kosher, if it hasn't been blessed by a Rabbi in the proper manner it is NEVER Kosher.

                  Kashrut along with the Shulchan Aruch governs the practice of all things related to eating, though the SA goes far beyond just eating.

                  1. re: jpschust

                    There isn't any "blessing" involved in making food kosher. Meat needs to come from a healthy specimen of an acceptable animal species that was slaughtered in a particular way. After slaughter it needs to be further inspected to make sure the animal was healthy. And the preparation of all food (meat or non-meat) needs to be supervised by someone (not necessarily a rabbi) who knows all the rules of kashrut. There are rabbinical organizations that will certify a particular slaughterhouse, packaging plant or restaurant as kosher (i.e., in compliance with all the rules of kashrut), but it's more analogous to a government health inspection than a blessing or incantation. The reason halal food isn't necessarily kosher isn't that it's lacking in some spiritual sense, but simply that it hasn't necessarily been prepared in compliance with all the rules of kashrut (which are quite extensive).

                    My understanding of halal (which isn't as good as my understanding of kashrut) is that it is similar to kashrut in many ways, but far from the same. One major difference, for example, is that there IS a blessing involved in halal slaughter.

                    Also, some terminology is getting confused here: "Kashrut" is a noun that refers to the Jewish dietary laws in general. "Kosher" is an adjective that describes food that complies with the rules of kashrut. The "Shulchan Aruch" is a 16th century book that compiled many Jewish laws, including many that relate to kashrut and many that relate to other subjects. So a piece of meat is kosher if it was slaughtered and packaged in compliance with the rules of kashrut, as found in the Shulchan Aruch (and elsewhere).

                    Roughly analogous American concepts would be "USDA regulations" for "Kashrut," "USDA approved" for "kosher," and the "Federal Register" for the Shulchan Aruch. A piece of meat is considered USDA approved if its slaughter and packing were done in compliance with the USDA regulations found in the Federal Register (and elsewhere).

                    1. re: themicah

                      Indeed you do have to bless in advance in order to make food kosher, though some more lenient Rabbis will lump in the blessings from earlier in the day in this. There's a blessing involved in completing any commandment.

                        1. re: themicah

                          It's kind of a subtlty, but it's the act of performing a mitzvah, thus a blessing is always required.

                          1. re: jpschust

                            It's also my understanding that for meat to be kosher, it must be slaughtered by a specially trained/certified(?) shochet (kosher slaughterer), whereas any Muslim who follows the rules of halal (which are simpler) can slaughter an animal acceptably.

                            1. re: Striver

                              I'm not sure, but as a Jew who works for a Muslim company (you can guess how that works) I'll ask today and get back to you on the Muslim side. Yes, Jews have to be trained to be a shochet.

                              1. re: Striver

                                Striver's right. Islam is not a clerical religion and most of its early adherents were nomadic (the Bedouins) so mandating that a clergyman was required to provide meat would have been impractical, to say the least. Roaming tribes would be hard-pressed to find a certified butcher in the middle of the Empty Quarter. According to the Sunnah of Mohammed, any adult Muslim may slaughter an animal invoking the name of Allah and in the prescribed way for it to be zabiha halal. Kashrut, however, involves more detailed rules regarding the method of slaughter, the sharpness and type of blade, inspections of the meat, etc. requiring specialized knowledge which is why there are specially certified kosher butchers and rabbi-inspectors.

                  2. Fascinating. I know that some of the dietary laws (re. restricted foods) for Jews are gleaned from what Catholics call "The Old Testament"....I think Muslims are also people of the Book in some regards to dietary law. Really interesting. Thanks all.

                    1. There actually is a quiet movement to try to use the commonalities of kosher and halal restrictions to bring the Jewish and Muslim communities closer in the US. There's a professor at Cornell University in the Food Science department who has done some research along these lines, and teaches a course on kosher and halal rules:


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: themicah

                        Well, why not? Jews and Muslim Arabs are children of Abraham, and both are a semitic people. Wouldn't it be great if food were the means to end the fighting?

                        1. re: FlavoursGal

                          I must say that this is a more than perfect example of what I love about the Hounds.

                          This thread was created, less than 8 hrs.ago, by a young Catholic Chick. (You're welcome TGB) This fallen-away, middle-aged Catholic has gained more knowledge in the 20 minutes of reading these posts & links than I have in a lifetime. It's been an unfocused curiousity of mine for quite awhile so, again, thanks for the knowledge Hounds.

                        1. re: byrd

                          sorry, but your response doesn't even scratch the surface. See themicah's response above (and others).

                        2. Growing up on Long Island, NY in the 1950's and 60's, I was aware that a number of Muslims would frequent the local Kosher butchers. Interestingly, recently while at a rest stop on the NYS Thruway, I passed by a fast-food place on the way to the restroom and noticed that they had side-by-side both Kosher and Halal certifications.

                          1. I was waiting on a take-out kebab last year, and glanced thru one of those "free sistribution" directories that get left in businesses for people to pick up - in this case, a "Muslim Yellow Pages" sort of thing. In it was a feedback card (what does our readership look like, and what do they want) and it included a question "What do you do to get halal food?" - The check-off answers ranged from "If I can't get it, I can't get it" to "Easily available in my area" and right in the middle was "I get kosher food when I can't get halal."

                            Evidently, for some Muslims, the kosher standards are, if not 100% interchangeable, at least better than not trying at all.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: wayne keyser

                              I know that in Sharia, Muslim Law, you are supposed to adhere as closely as possible to the tennents of your religion, but at the same time the law of the land can trump.

                              1. re: jpschust

                                It's not that the law of the land can trump, but rather you are not expected to put yourself out enormously. The law is made for spiritual perfection, not to cause suffering. So if meat has been slaughtered according to kosher rules, and you cannot find zabiha meat in your area, then you may eat the kosher meat as it was killed in the name of the one God and is clean. However, to bring it back to a chowish topic, if you are Muslim and have moved to Kansas City, just because everyone else is eating baby back ribs doesn't mean you get to. Pork is stil haraam.

                                1. re: JungMann

                                  BTW, the place I was waiting for takeout also made pizza with beef pepperoni for just that reason (and IMO the pepperoni was just as good)

                                  Halal meat is becoming (a) much more widely available, and (b) something of a "mark of quality" advertised to the general public here (Washington DC area)

                                  1. re: wayne keyser

                                    The irony being that I don't think there is a Halal butcher within the District proper.

                            2. I'm just curious as to why this post was moved to "not about food" board. How on earth is a discussion of Halal v. Kosher not about food?