Halal Glossary

What is Halal?

  • Halal – Permissible or lawful. In the context of meat and poultry it means the animal is permissible to eat and has been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.
  • Haram – Not permissible or forbidden. In the context of meat and poultry it means either the animal does fit those animals permitted to be consumed or is not slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.
  • Dhabh (Zabihah) – Arabic word (verb) meaning 'to slaughter'. Although not used in its proper definition, this word may often be used to reference whether meat/poultry has been hand slaughtered as opposed to machine slaughtered. Its use is mostly a North American reference and is not widely referenced in Islamic countries world-wide.
  • Penetrative Captive Bolt Stunning- Hand held unit used on cattle for traditional non-Halal slaughter in the United States. The captive bolt gun shoots a retractable steel rod into the head of the animal puncturing the skull and brain causing the animal to eventually die from brain hemorrhage.  Its purpose is to render the animal unconscious prior to cutting and sticking of the heart. This process is the most common method used in the US beef industry today and incorporates a vertical cut from the chin of the animal downward before being eventually bled out.  This process is generally not an accepted process for Halal slaughter.
  • Pneumatic (Mushroom) Stunner- Hand held unit used by a minority of beef slaughter facilities in the US. This form of stunning does not kill the animal and when used properly the animal is rendered unconscious immediately. This process is sometimes used in halal or kosher slaughter facilities immediately prior to or post halal or kosher slaughter. Once stunned, if the animal is not slaughtered it will revive within a 2-3 minute period. The use of a pneumatic stunner is generally a globally accepted practice however there are some Halal consumers who prefer no stunning of any kind.
  • Mechanical Slaughter -A method of slaughter is used in the majority of  the US poultry industry. A mechanical metal blade performs the actual slaughter of the animal by cutting the neck of the animal without severing the head or spine. For Halal purposes there is considerable debate as to whether and what type of Mechanical Halal slaughter is acceptable and what type is not. Some methods are globally accepted while others may be categorically rejected. Midamar’s mechanical slaughter process means that Muslim slaughter men are always on the line, making the intention and repeating Tasmiya at the point of the mechanical blade. The poultry that have not been slaughtered by the wheel are slaughtered by hand as a form of backup in the event the wheel does not catch the missed birds. 
  • Stunning- Most often referred to the process of rendering an animal unconscious or insensible to pain before or directly after the slaughter. Stunning may or may not be a Halal practice depending on the stunning tool utilized during the slaughter process or the stun intensity.
  • Harvest - A term regularly used in the meat and poultry industry as a replacement for the word slaughter.
  • European Cut - A method of killing larger animals such as beef cattle when traditional Halal slaughter cannot be performed. This practice is carried out by performing a penetrative captive bolt stun and cutting from the chin down vs. horizontally with one cut across the neck in accordance with Islamic law. It is debated whether global Halal standards recognize this method of slaughter or not as being in accordance with acceptable or compliant Halal practices whether performed by a Muslim or not.
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