Halal Transactions

Expert analysis of the latest Halal news

Halal Laws in the USA

Nine states in the US have passed laws regulating the labeling and or sale of Halal food. What are these laws and how do they effect the production, distribution, and sale of Halal food? How do they protect Muslim consumers? HTO has compiled this list to help you stay informed.

Find a summary of state Halal laws below. Click the state for a link to more information.


It is illegal to sell non-Halal products as Halal. It also mandates that Halal restaurants indicate if they also serve food which is not Halal. Passed in 2002.


A business which offers both Halal and non-Halal items must clearly label the items accordingly. It is illegal to sell food as Halal which the seller knows is not Halal or which the seller did not adequately ensure was Halal, however, the seller is not responsible for non-Halal items being sold as Halal if the seller was deceived into believing those items were Halal by the producer, manufacturer, etc.

Additionally it is a misdemeanor to: mislead a person to believe a non-Halal food product is Halal, remove or destroy identifying documents or markers on Halal food unless that food is to be sold as non-Halal, resell food as Halal with fraudulent labels and falsely label food as Halal, sell Halal items as Halal in the same location as non-Halal items without clearly posting that the establishment sells both Halal and non-Halal items, sell an item as Halal which has not been marked as Halal by the producer, and allow for cross contamination between Halal goods for sale and non-Halal goods.


An establishment selling Halal food must clearly display a “disclosure statement”. If the establishment sells Halal and non-Halal items it must clearly display a sign stating such. It is illegal to falsely represent non-Halal food for sale as Halal. An establishment which advertises itself as “Halal Only” but also offers for sale non-Halal food is considered fraudulent.


In Michigan it is a misdemeanor to: falsely label non-Halal food as Halal, sell non-Halal and Halal food in the same location without clearly labelling the two, and possess non-Halal items in an establishment which claims to sell only Halal items.


It is illegal to package, label, and sell food as Halal which has not been “prepared and maintained in accordance to the laws and customs of the Islamic religion”. It is similarly illegal to sell food as Halal which is not marked with the original identifying Halal label.

New Jersey:

New Jersey, one of the first states to enact Halal laws, has some of the most stringent. In addition to penalizing the false labelling and sale of non-Halal as Halal, those establishments selling Halal food must “post information setting forth the procedures they follow in their purchase, handling, and preparation of the Halal food”. Fraudulently selling non-Halal as Halal results in a fine of $10,000 for first time offenders and $20,000  thereafter.

New York:

Manufacturers, producers, and packers of Halal food must register with the state and identify their certifying organization. Establishments selling Halal food, including food carts, must display their Halal certificate in a prominent location. Companies selling Halal and non-Halal items must clearly display a sign that reads non-Halal and Halal items are sold in that location.


It is illegal to sell food as Halal which the seller knows is not Halal or which the seller did not adequately ensure was Halal. Companies selling Halal and non-Halal items must clearly display a sign that reads non-Halal and Halal items are sold at that establishment.


In Virginia it is illegal to sell food as Halal without indicating the certifier of the product.


This blog post is merely a summary of Halal laws in the US and is not an exhaustive list of the various components of the laws or their implications. It should not be taken as legal advice.


Recipe for kufta with tahini

Kufta bi’ tahini

This Palestinian version of savory, lemony meatballs is surprisingly simple to make and yet tastes sooo good!


Ingredients (serves 4)

1 pound raw ground beef

3/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

2 medium onions, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt (split) plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 medium potatoes, peeled

1/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)

Juice of 2 lemons

1 cup water

Arabic bread (for serving)


  • Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine ground beef, parsley, and onion.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon salt, cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and black pepper. Pour spice mixture into ground beef mixture and combine thoroughly.
  • Mold the ground beef mixture into finger shaped meatballs and place in 13×9 baking pan.
  • Cut potatoes into 3/4 inch wedges and arrange around and on top of meatballs in pan.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of water over the meatballs and potatoes. Cover dish with aluminum foil and place in oven until potatoes are fork tender (approx. 45 mins).
  • While the meatballs are in the oven, combine tahini, lemon juice, water, and the leftover salt.
  • When potatoes are fork tender, remove pan from oven and pour tahini mixture over the top.
  • Turn the oven to broil, return pan to oven uncovered.
  • Bake until top is golden brown and tahini sauce has thickened slightly (approx. 15 minutes). Serve with fresh Arabic bread.

Keeping Halal in Muslim countries

halal supermaketWhile in a Muslim majority country, one of the last things most people are concerned about is whether or not the food they purchase is Halal. It’s almost always an unspoken assumption that any food is Halal unless specifically marked otherwise.

Some countries—like the UAE—have gone so far as to create sections of supermarkets clearly labelled “For Non-Muslims” where things like pig-gelatin marshmallows and bacon bits can be found. For most other countries, however, the line isn’t so clear.

Is it accurate to assume that all food in Muslim majority countries is Halal unless marked otherwise?

Be aware that when it comes to packaged goods, most Western products are still produced in the West. Even goods packaged in Arabic labels are often manufactured in America and then repackaged or relabeled overseas. For example the “beef extract” in McCormick’s gravy mix produced in the U.S., is most likely not sourced from an animal slaughtered in the Islamic tradition.

Recent scares like Cadbury’s pork-chocolate fiasco—although proved untrue on further examination—demonstrate that in today’s world really nothing can be assumed to be free from contamination. Even an item as relatively benign and simple as chocolate could potentially not be Halal.

Some foods obviously pose a larger risk for contamination than others. Meat products should be scrutinized more thoroughly and producers of products containing gelatin should guarantee Halal sourcing and should clearly label goods as Halal.

Many companies, like Haribo, very clearly label their gelatin candies as “Halal” and source their gelatin from pork alternatives like beef and fish. Some smaller brands, like Shari Candies, are not as clear. Shari Candies contain gelatin, are produced in the US, and are available in Carrefour in Amman, Jordan. HTO reached out to Shari Candies inquiring whether or not the gelatin in question is derived from pork but did not receive a response.

Even in a Muslim majority country, one still needs to check labels and do his/her Halal homework when it comes to imported goods.

Even in a Muslim majority country, one still needs to check labels and do his/her Halal homework when it comes to imported goods.

Islamic finance: What makes it “Halal”?

In Islamic finance, risk and profit are shared between lenders and borrowers thereby tying the success of lenders to borrowers. In theory, Islamic financing aims to avoid situations like the Lehman’s Brothers collapse in 2008 by forbidding risky, unjust and unfair financial practices.

Investors are allowed to earn a return even though the charging of interest is prohibited in several verses in the Quran including 2:275 (al-Baqarah), 2:278 (al-Baqarah), and 4:161 (an-Nisa). Investors cannot, however, guarantee a return on their capital or even principal repayment due to risk sharing between borrowers and investors.

Three common methods of Islamic financing include mudarabah, musharaka and murahabah. In mudarabah an investor funds a borrower’s venture. Profits are shared based on a previously agreed on finance agreement while loss is born by the investor (Mudarabah). Musharakah refers to jointly funded ventures by the borrower and lender. Musharaka tends to take the form of a partnership and the lender has the right to play a role in decision making (Musharaka). In Murabaha, purchases are made by the financial institution and then resold at a higher price to clients. Instead of a student receiving a $500 loan to buy a laptop, for example, the financial institution purchases the laptop at $500 and then resells the laptop to the student for $600 which the student repays in installments (Mahariq 2014).

In practice, Islamic financing produces the same burden on the borrower as charging interest but it reduces risk to borrowers and lenders. Murabaha reduces risk to financial institutions by giving them more power over how financing is utilized because the bank purchases items directly. Murabaha also helps protect financially illiterate borrowers because the bank takes the guess work out of budgeting by purchasing the items for them. Musharaka and Mudarabah similarly empower both borrowers and lenders; while borrowers benefit from the advice and guidance of lenders, lenders get to play an active role in decision making.

Regardless of the method, finance and investments cannot be considered Halal unless the money is earned by Halal means; one of the “elements of success of a Halal business” mentioned by Dr. Alabsy in his article published by the Halal Journal in 2008. Money earned should come from Halal sources and should be spent in legal and Halal paths in order to be considered “spiritually clean”.

While many factors from method to means affect the “halalness” of finance, ultimately, Islamic financial institutions are obligated to focus on the well-being of their client, not just profits.

Mahariq, Sameh. “Islamic Finance.” National Microfinance Bank. Personal interview. 30 Sept. 2014.

“Mudarabah on Shari’ah Ruling.”Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance – Mudarabah on Shari’ah Ruling. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2014. <http://www.islamic-banking.com/mudarabah_sh_ruling.aspx&gt;.

“Musharakah on Shari’ah Ruling.” Institute of Islamic Banking and Insurance. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2014. <http%3A%2F%2Fwww.islamic-banking.com%2FMusharakah_sruling.aspx>.

On the organic Halal movement


We recently came across an article in the Huffington Post about how an organic Halal movement afoot is getting people to think about where their meat comes from, but we’d like to argue that Halal meat (the products we certify at least) already does just that.

A gentleman interviewed for the article suggested most people associate Halal with the actual slaughter.

“Most people associate halal with slaughter. But that’s just the end of the process,” Zaid Kurdieh told the Huffington Post.

We couldn’t agree more. While many consumers may simply look for the Halal label, HTO pays attention to every detail from farm to packaging to ensure a quality product. In fact, we won’t approve a product as Halal if the animals are treated poorly or fed animal by-products.

Some consumers may have a preference for organic Halal products, but it is important to distinguish the difference between requirements, such as humane treatment of animals, and personal taste. For more information about our Halal standards, please visit our website.

Halal from farm to table

Eid al Adha

Eid al Adha also known as “the Big Eid” celebrates Abraham’s devotion and sacrifice to God. Muslims commemorate Abraham’s sacrifice every year after Hajj by slaughtering an animal, usually a sheep. The animal must be slaughtered Islamically, with the Tasmiah read by a Muslim before slaughter with a sharp knife. One third of the meat from the animal should be given to the needy, one third is shared with family and friends, and one third should be eaten by the immediate family. From all of us at Halal Transactions, Eid Mubarik and have a happy Eid!

2:124. Recall that Abraham was put to the test by his Lord, through certain commands, and he fulfilled them. (God) said, “I am appointing you an imam for the people.” عيد الأضحى 2

Creekstone Farms Beef update and proof of the Halal standards of HTO


Thousands of American Muslims recently expressed excitement at the news that Creekstone Farms Prime Beef, being served at top restaurants throughout America, is certified Halal. Creekstone Farms is based out of Arkansas City, Kansas, and is known for producing some of the best quality beef in America. The news, released by the website Muslim Eater, went viral in the Muslim community. The idea that such high quality beef was available as Halal resonated positively with thousands of Muslims in the U.S. and abroad

After the news spread, Halal Transactions of Omaha (HTO), the Halal certifier of Creekstone Farms beef, received numerous phone calls and emails from Muslim consumers inquiring about Creekstone Halal beef. Many wanted to know where they could find it. Several callers mentioned they have avoided eating meat in restaurants for years and that this discovery was great news because it meant they could enjoy restaurant dining again.

However, there has also been some concern about the Halal criteria by which HTO certifies Creekstone Farms beef. Some readers questioned HTO’s standards, based on the information presented in the initial article published on Muslim Eater.  Muslim Eater has since published an update to clarify these concerns based on information provided directly from HTO and its Shari‘ah Board.

Meanwhile, an unverified blog has popped up questioning procedures HTO utilizes and has made false accusations against HTO and Creekstone.

The following is a response to those claims published on social media and on certain blogs regarding the Halal criteria of Halal Transactions of Omaha and the Halal slaughter of beef that takes place at Creekstone Farms.


  1. The first claim made by the blogger that Halal fraud is taking place by HTO at Creekstone Farms is false. The assertions claiming that there are no Muslim employees performing Halal slaughter at Creekstone Farms are false, as well. As such, they meet the legal definition of libel (defamation by the communication of false statements through written or printed word that harms a reputation). We have contacted the blog and asked for all statements to be removed.


  1. The second claim mentioned that a retired USDA official claimed that Creekstone Farms does not have any Muslim employees performing the Halal slaughter. This claim is based on an alleged, yet currently unidentified contact with the plant at Creekstone Farms. This is a libelous claim with no basis in fact. USDA inspectors are responsible for the health inspection of animals and the meat produced for human consumption. While they may be experienced in overseeing plants that operate Halal slaughter, they are not the final authority to speak on whether procedures employed at a certain plant fall under the category of Halal. This is especially the case for the inspector who has no connection to HTO or Creekstone Farms and no evidence for his claim. This function is reserved for the Halal certifier of a plant, in this case HTO, and its Scholarly Advisors, scholars of Islamic law (Shari‘ah). HTO continually checks on the slaughtermen performance and audit plants frequently.


  1. HTO trains and supervises Muslim slaughtermen at all plants it certifies, including Creekstone Farms. The current Muslim slaughterman working on Halal slaughter at Creekstone is named Abdi Rahman Farah. Mr. Abdi Rahman has been working on the kill floor for several months now. Like all Muslim employees at Creekstone, Mr. Abdi Rahman files a Halal Slaughtering Report on a weekly basis. In order to meet some of the HTO’s requirements for Halal slaughter, Mr. Abdi Rahman must prepare a weekly report signed by himself and the plant manager at Creekstone. Click here to view Creekstone timesheet.


  1. HTO determines all of its Halal criteria under the guidance of its scholarly body. This Shari‘ah Advisory board consults, advises and oversees the methods HTO requires in order for a plant to be certified as Halal. These scholars also may visit HTO’s slaughterhouses to ensure the procedures taking place meet the criteria for Halal slaughter as required in Shari‘ah, Islamic law. To ensure objectivity, these scholars do not have any business interests in Halal certification. The scholars that comprise the Shari‘ah Advisors of HTO are:


a. Imam Ahmad Azzaare – Lanham, Maryland
Azzaare is a graduate of Ein Shams University, Egypt and the Imam of Prince George’s Muslim Association.

b. Dr. Assad Busool – Chicago, IL
Busool holds a Ph.D. in Arabic and Islamic Studies from Berkley, CA and is the author of 35 books in Islamic studies and Qur’anic translations. He is a lecturer and khatib at various Islamic centers, conferences and colleges.

c. Shaykh Rachid Belbachir – Chicago, IL
Belbachir is a scholar with ijazat (qualifications) in various Islamic sciences including hadith from Shaykh Muhammad Dedew Al-Shanqiti. He is also Chairman on the religious board of the Muslim Community of Chicago and President of Maghreb Association of North America.

d. Dr. Ali Mustafa Yaqub – Jakarta, Indonesia
Yaqub is the Imam of the Grand Mosque (Masjid Istiklal) and member of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI) – Fatwa Committee.


  1. HTO relies on Muslim scholars and the application of known Fatwas by major Islamic organizations, both of which are based on the authentic Sharia sources of Quran and Sunnah. Based on these sources, all slaughterhouses that are HTO-certified must meet certain requirements in order to be certified as Halal:


  1. Recite the Tasmiyah by a Muslim slaughterman (Bismillah, Allahu Akbar)
  2. Use of a sharp knife to cause the bleeding, whether by Thabh or Nahr
  3. Thorough bleed out of the carcass
  4. Death of the animal before further cutting or processing


  1. The third claim made by the blogger that HTO applies only the vertical cut in all slaughterhouses that HTO supervises is also not true. HTO does certify two types of Halal slaughter methods based on approval from its Scholarly Advisors, and as evidenced in a famous Fatwa on Halal slaughter issued by the Council of the Islamic Fiqh Academy, signed on by representatives of all attending delegates of over 40 Muslim countries in their meeting in Jeddah in 1997 in which they approved three methods of slaughter:


  • Cutting the throat of the animal (Dhabh): it consists in cutting the esophagus, the two jugular veins and the pharynx of the This is the method preferred by Shari’a for killing cattle, sheep, goats and poultry. It is also permitted for other animals.
  • Slaughtering (Nahr): it consists in plunging a knife in the base of the This is the method preferred by Shari’a for killing camels and similar animals. This method is also tolerated for the killing of cattle.
  • Immolation (‘Aqr): it consists in wounding an animal when there is no other choice, at any part of the body. This method is applied for wild animals hunting of which is lawful (Halal), or ferocious domestic.



  • A portion of the actual translation of the Fatwa can be found at the end of this article (APPENDIX II).
  • Nahr is the same method used by Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, who performed slaughter by way of Nahr of 63 Camels during the Hajj pilgrimage.
  • All the three methods of slaughter described above satisfy the conditions of Halal slaughter mentioned in an authentic Hadith by the Prophet (pbuh):

“ما أنهر الدم وذكر اسم الله عليه فكل”    

“Whatever causes the flow of blood (of an animal) and the name of Allah is pronounced on it then it from it”.


  1. The method that HTO certifies at plants that happen to perform Nahr, such as Creekstone Farms, is the method of piercing the neck of the animal by a longitudinal cut followed by a horizontal cut, which severs the major blood vessels as well as the esophagus and the trachea. This is traditionally used for large animals with long necks, such as camels, but is also allowed for cattle.

Traditional Nahr involves stabbing in the lower portion of the neck of the animal by a long sword to cause the bleeding. Since a sword cannot be used to do the same in a modern slaughterhouse, and in order to meet the mandates on humane treatment of animals, the cutting method using a sharp knife instead of a sword is the closest to the traditional Nahr. The Nahr method of slaughter is approved by various mathhabs (schools) of Islamic Thought, the aforementioned Fatwa of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy and approved by the Scholarly Advisors of HTO.


  1. Modern slaughterhouses utilize machinery in fast production setups to meet the demands of millions of consumers around the world. There is also a high demand for Halal meat for millions of Muslims in America and abroad. HTO certifies Halal slaughter methods at plants that utilize these modern technological setups. HTO also works with them to hire and train Muslim slaughtermen in order to meet the strict requirements of Shari‘ah, the Fatwas HTO uses and the requirements of its Scholarly Advisors. Meeting Halal criteria is a priority for HTO, in addition to quality of meat.


These points sufficiently prove the authenticity of the criteria Halal Transaction of Omaha requires for Halal certification and responds to the claims from social media and on certain blogs. HTO also establishes proof of Muslim employment at slaughterhouses that HTO certifies, specifically Creekstone Farms.


Muslims should work together to promote and protect Halal as a standard in the meat production industry, and harness technology in a way that benefits all Muslims. The Halal industry is large with room for all interested and sincere parties to work together in providing Halal options for Muslim consumers. It is imperative to consult with one another in a respectful manner in the instance that one may have questions or concerns. As Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:

“الدين النصيحة” or “the religion is sincere advice.”


Methods of communication and interaction that may cause discord in the Muslim community are not in line with the philosophy of HTO. Such methods can hurt the beef industry in general and jeopardize the food security for Muslims who wish to consume Halal in the U.S. or abroad.


HTO welcomes all who wish to interact, connect and work with us to further promote the cause of Halal and apply the authentic Islamic standards in modern slaughterhouses and processing plants.


Consumers are encouraged to contact HTO for any issues, questions, or concerns about our services:


Halal Transactions of Omaha
PO Box 4546
Omaha, NE 68104
Tel.: (402) 572-6120
Email: info@halaltransactions.org
Website: halaltransactions.org





  Americans wasted 80 billion pounds of food in 2014. In fact, between “forty to fifty per cent of all food ready for harvest in the United States never gets eaten”. Every American wastes an average 20 pounds of food every month. That’s a lot of food! Not only is food waste expensive in terms […]

It may be natural, but is it Halal?

Seeing the word “natural” on a product’s label can often mislead consumers into thinking the product is healthy or — for Muslims — Halal, but that isn’t always the case.
When a product is made with natural flavoring, for instance, the ingredients may come from animals, fruits, vegetables and even eggs or dairy products.

“It’s a very gray area, said Sami Absy, Halal processing coordinator with Halal Transactions of Omaha. “The idea is that it is natural and is not made in a lab.”

Indeed, natural does not necessarily equate healthy, Absy said.

“There aren’t as many safety measures for natural flavorings,” he said. “Artificial flavorings, on the other hand, is stuff strictly made in the lab, and they have many more safety measures.”

Meanwhile, as customers see natural flavoring on an ingredient label and the product isn’t certified Halal, Absy advised consumers contact the company.

Part of Absy’s job with HTO entails tracing down the origin of natural flavorings before the product can become certified Halal.

“It’s a rigorous process,” he said. “It can be very vague. For instance, processing companies may have an idea of what is used, but might not have details. If they don’t know, I go to the ingredients company. I go to the original source and get the information from them.”

Only then can he determine whether the natural flavor comes from a Halal source or not.

Halal S’mores!

Don’t write off these delicious treats just because they contain gelatin. Most gelatin in the US is derived from pork. Some, however, comes from beef and other sources.

You can buy vegan marshmallows online from sites like Sweet & Sara and Dandies. Halal marshmallows, often made with beef gelatin, are available from companies like CandyLand and Zyad.

If you live in a “Halal desert” (no Halal options at your grocery store) you can make your own marshmallows vegan substitutes for gelatin. Vegan alternatives to gelatin include Agar, made from red algae, Carrageen, made from flavorless seaweed, and Vegan Jel, made from vegetable gum. Here is a recipe that caught our eyes.

Get the campfires ready and Happy 4th of July!