HFCE assumes the question concerns restaurants in predominantly non-Muslim societies.
There are three basic considerations: one is the meat or poultry itself, another is the method of preparation and segregation of Halal versus haram meat in the same preparation area, and the third is the other items that combine to make up the meal.
Let us consider the meat and poultry itself. There are some who interpret the ayah about the food of the People of the Book (Ahlul Kitab) to mean Muslims can eat the meat of Halal animals slaughtered by Christians and/or Jews. Others take the ayah about not eating meat that has not been slaughtered with the recitation of the name of ALLAH to mean if Ahlul Kitab do not recite the name of ALLAH during slaughter, thereby making their methods of slaughter unacceptable for consumption by Muslims. There does not seem to be a consensus. Still others add the hadith that what is Halal is clear and what is haram is clear and that between these two ends are unclear things. The hadith tells us that whoever avoids these unclear matters protects himself from committing sin, and whoever does not avoid them may fall into sin unknowingly. These individuals feel that if a food item is not clearly Halal, then it is best to avoid it.
After all this is said, it may still leave room for personal consideration. At HFCE, we have decided that we shall not certify meat that is slaughtered without Tasmiyyah – the recitation of the name of ALLAH – so we would not certify the meat and poultry used in most of these fast food restaurants.
As to the final matter of preparation and segregation, most restaurants serve pork products as well as beef and chicken. The degree to which a particular restaurant keeps these products segregated and the manner with which employees handle the products has a paramount impact on the final meal product. Unless preparers use clean gloves to prepare each sandwich or wash their hands after touching haram items and before touching non-haram items, preparers would inevitably contaminate the non-haram items. In addition, common grills are sometimes used, as well as common utensils, fryers, etc.
In conclusion, HFCE would not certify the majority of meals found in these restaurants. For HFCE to certify them, the restaurants would have to do the following:
- Have on hand an acceptable supply of Halal meat and chicken slaughtered by a Muslim who has recited Tasmiyyah during the slaughter
- Have all other items (bread, buns, frying oil, etc.) certified Halal.
- Have procedures and policies in place that prevent the cross-contamination of Halal items by non-Halal items. This would require separate ovens, cookers, grills, preparation areas, utensils, etc. for the Halal items.
- HFCE would also require the presence of a Muslim employee and the training of all employees to an acceptable standard understanding of the requirements of Halal food preparation.
We are some distance from achieving this at present; however, as more Muslims and non-Muslims demand Halal-certified products, more food providers and restaurant owners will start to accommodate them.
And ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta’ala, knows best.