The word halal means ‘permissible’, in Arabic. It is often used by Muslims to denote what is permissible for them and it is not restricted to food. As such, there is halal food, halal banking and finance, halal clothing etc.
There are three factors that make food halal:
Is it in the permissible food?
If it carrion, swine, blood or food dedicated to a god other than Allah it is automatically prohibited. If it is not, it may be permissible.
Has the animal been slaughtered in a halal manner?
If an animal has been strangled, killed by a blow, killed by a fall, gored to death or partially eaten by another animal, it is prohibited. If it hasn’t been slaughtered in the halal manner, it is prohibited.
What is pure and good is permissible.
Fruit, vegetables, grains and all foods that are grown and pure are permissible. The only issue with them is whether they have been handled in a permissible manner, i.e. nothing prohibited has been added to it or contaminated it.
Does it contain anything that has been prohibited?
Any processed food that contains a prohibited ingredient in any amount, it is prohibited.
In Australia, mechanical slaughter is only used to slaughter chickens. Islamic scholars differ in opinion as to the permissibility of mechanical slaughter.
The terminology used to describe the modern day method of immobilising an animal prior to slaughter is slightly misconceived. In Islam, animals that have been killed by a blow are prohibited. If the stunning causes the animal to die, then this animal is prohibited. However, if the stunning is used simply to immobilise the animal prior to the slaughter then this is permissible (halal).
Stunning is used to slaughter in a mass scale. Given the volume of animals that are slaughtered at abattoirs, stunning assists them in controlling the animals during this process. The stunning method varies from one abattoir to another however in the case of Export Establishments, it is regulated by the Australian government.
The halal slaughter process is as follows: