1. What is “Halal”?
“Halal” is an Arabic word meaning “lawful” or “permitted”. The opposite of Halal is “Haram”, which means “unlawful” or “prohibited”. When it comes to food and consumables, Halal is the dietary standard of Muslims. All pure and clean things are considered Halal except for the few following exceptions:
• Swine/pigs and their by-products
• Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
• Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah (God)
• Alcohol and intoxicants
• Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears
• Blood and blood by-products
• Foods contaminated with any of the above products
2. What are some common Halal Meat Products?
3. What Does “Zabiha” Mean?
“Zabiha” is the prescribed method of ritual slaughter of all permissible animals.
4. What Does “Zabiha Halal” Mean?
“Zabiha Halal” is the term used to describe any meat that is slaughtered according to the Islamic Rites.
5. What are the basic requirements for Halal slaughtering?
The Four basic requirements of Halal Slaughter are: (a) that Allah’s (God’s) name must be pronounced at the time of slaughter (Bismillah Allahu Akbar); (b) The instrument used for slaughtering must be very sharp so as to not cause undue pain to the animal; (c) Blood should be drained out completely of the slaughtered animal; (d) and these steps should be performed by a Muslim.
6. How do you slaughter chickens at Zabiha Halal? Is it manual or machine?
Adhering to the strict requirements of Halal slaughter is a priority for Zabiha Halal. All of our chickens are machine slaughtered in exact accordance with Islamic rites. Our grain fed chickens are slaughtered with a mechanically driven sharp blade in the presence of a Muslim blesser who continuously recites Tasmiyah during the slaughtering process. This process is approved by the Fiqh Council of North America, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, and Dar al Ifta in Saudi Arabia. Maple Lodge Farms has been Halal certified since 1990, making it one of the first chicken processing companies in Canada to undergo the rigorous certification process.
7. Who is your Halal certifier?
Zabiha Halal is approved by IFANCA (Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America) and IFANCC (Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of Canada) and is also endorsed by many other Imams and Islamic organizations such as Dr. Mohammad Iqbal Alnadvi of Sharia Consulting Services, Fiqh Council of North America, Imam Hamid Slimi of Syeda Khadijah Centre, The Islamic Centre of Canada, Association Musulmane des Commerces Des Viandes Halal-Quebec, Canada, Masjid Istiqlal-Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates Municipalities, and many other well-known Muslim organizations around the world. We are also member of International Halal Integrity Alliance. We strictly adhere to Halal requirements for both our slaughter process as well as our ingredients, to ensure that our Zabiha Halal products are 100% Halal. We continuously invite Imams and religious scholars to visit our plant and witness our process, and welcome suggestions and recommendations that help us improve this process.
8. Why do you machine slaughter instead of hand slaughter?
To ensure we can consistently satisfy high demand and provide high quality meat, Zabiha Halal uses machine slaughtering. The machine cut is very precise. This method is approved by IFANCA and many Imams and Islamic organizations in North America and around the world, as one of the permitted Halal slaughtering methods. Zabiha Halal is federally inspected, HACCP and BRC certified (two of the most rigorous standards of food safety).
9. Is there a cassette or a CD player for blessing these chickens?
There has never been a cassette/CD player for blessing chickens. We employ at least 10 Muslim blessers to ensure that the chickens are properly blessed on the slaughtering line.
10. Describe your Halal process.
We have a team of Muslim blessers. A blesser starts the processing line at the beginning of the shift by reciting Allah’s name and Tasmiyah (Bismillah Allahu Akbar). At any given time, there are 3 Muslim blessers assigned to a slaughtering line. These blessers work in rotation during their shift, meaning, amongst these 3 blessers, one takes the charge of blessing. This person stands in front of a rotary blade to say the blessing (Tasmiyah), while the other two blessers stand after the blade to ensure that the neck is properly cut for bleed out. If the blade misses the chicken, then one of these two blessers will cut the chicken by hand while restating the required blessing. This ensures the quality of proper cutting as required by Halal processing. Each production shift is properly documented by Zabiha Halal and audited by IFANCA on a regular basis to ensure proper slaughtering is adhered to.
11. How long has Maple Lodge Farms been producing Zabiha Halal products and how does it ensure that its Halal process remains consistent over time?
We have been serving the Muslim community with quality Halal products since 1990. Maple Lodge Farms established the Zabiha Halal brand in 2002, based on consumer demand for a widely available product that was prominent and easy to find on shelf.
Together with frequent inspection visits from our certifying body (IFANCC), we have strict internal controls to ensure Islamic guidelines are continuously being followed. It is our standard procedure that we always have 3 Muslim blessers at each line, with one backup. These Muslim employees are well trained and under oath to perform the duties assigned to them with honesty and integrity. We periodically conduct Halal refresher courses for all involved in Halal processing, including senior management.
12. Is Maple Lodge Farms owned by Muslims? What is the relationship between Maple Lodge Farms and Zabiha Halal?
Maple Lodge Farms is not owned by Muslims. The company is owned and operated by the May family, who settled in Ontario and raised livestock on their property from the early 1800’s. In 1955, Maple Lodge Farms formally incorporated and began selling their fresh chicken commercially. However, the company fully understands the requirements and responsibility of serving authentic Halal products. It began its Halal production in 1990 under the supervision of local Imams, religious scholars and international Halal regulatory bodies. To ensure a consistent standard in Halal processing, the company is audited and endorsed by many Islamic organizations and Muslim scholars, and currently employs at least 10 blessers and an exclusive marketing team to serve the Muslim community, including a Muslim Halal Relations Manager and a Muslim Brand Manager.
13. How do you ensure that non-zabiha products are separate from those that are zabiha?
We have a stringent Quality Assurance coding system in place that preserves the identity of Halal meat all the way through the process, enabling us to certify our Halal claim. This process ensures the segregation of Halal from non-Halal products which is verified on a frequent and random basis to ensure the integrity of our Halal products is maintained.
14. What about ingredients, are they all Halal as well?
Yes when we say Halal, we mean it! Our Product Development team as well as our Halal certifying partners IFANCA/IFANCC has a rigorous assessment process to ensure that all of our ingredients are verified to be Halal. In addition, all Halal products are lactose free with no MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).
15. Do you stun your chickens?
Canadian law stipulates that federally registered and inspected plants stun animals/birds before they are slaughtered. Our stunning processes at Zabiha Halal are employed for the purpose of making the chicken insensible prior to slaughter. This stunning process does not kill the chicken.
We fully subscribe to respectful, humane treatment of chickens by strictly adhering to the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Poultry. Our high quality grain fed chickens are raised in family owned farms in an environment conducive to good standards of welfare, and our slaughtering practices adhere to guidelines laid out and regulated by the Canadian government.
16. What assurances do you have that a bird is alive at the time of slaughter?
There are several check points in place to ensure the chickens we slaughter are alive and in good health. Several Canadian Food Inspection Agency Inspectors work in our slaughter operations inspecting the chickens throughout the process, from slaughter through to further processing. When chickens are placed on the slaughtering line, our well-trained employees check every chicken and remove any chickens not suitable for processing. Our blessers perform heartbeat checks and visually monitor the movement of the chicken and flow of blood at the time slaughter.
17. Can you provide a step-by-step description of your slaughtering process?
Halal processing at Zabiha Halal is completed and overseen by Muslim blessers. We have a team of several fulltime Muslim Blessers to perform this job.
1. The blesser starts the processing line by reciting Allah’s name and Tasmiyah (Bismillah Allahu Akbar). The blessers continue to repeat this Tasmiyah during the entire production at the time of slaughter.
2. At the point of slaughter, a highly accurate, rotary knife blade precisely severs the respiratory tract, esophagus, jugular vein and arteries, leaving the head attached.
3. The spinal cord is left undamaged and the nervous system still unharmed to ensure that compete bleeding out takes place.
4. A backup Muslim slaughterer is always on hand, ensuring that there is never a gap in the live blessings, and that every bird is accurately slaughtered.
5. As the Halal chickens come off the line, they are federally inspected for quality and food safety assurance.
6. Our process also meets the rigorous production standards set by Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and Agriculture Canada.
7. The unique coding system implemented at Zabiha Halal for both meat and ingredients enables us to maintain the integrity of the all of our Halal products.
18. Zabiha Halal is known to be a chicken processor. Are your beef products also certified Halal?
In response to the growing needs of our Halal consumers, Zabiha Halal also offers a number of Halal beef products. These products are produced at other locations. The producers of Zabiha Halal beef products are Halal certified by IFANCC and follow rigorous Halal slaughter and quality control standards under strict supervision.