USA - Where Do We Go From Here?: Halal Food Regulation and Monitoring
Mar 29, 2023
As Muslims continue to settle in this country, there are a number of unique challenges that emerge in the criminal legal system, religious freedom, and much more. But one often overlooked question is that of the dietary rules and requirements that many Muslims adhere to. Many are familiar with the halal carts on street corners in major cities but are unaware of the intricacies of ḥalāl food doctrine and the associated regulatory and monitoring schemes in place. While it may be inconsequential to many, for Muslims, the principles of permissible and impermissible food are essential to understand and practice. However, in a secular nation like the United States, parsing what is or is not religiously compliant can be difficult and may leave room for deception and fraud. With that in mind, this Comment considers the current regulatory framework and identifies its shortcomings, proposing reforms in three distinct areas: inspection, certification, and labeling. These reforms form a quasi-public, quasi-private scheme that mirrors best practices as learned from the Kosher regulatory system, international examples, and state practices. This Comment hopes to begin conversation around halal products and how best to protect consumers through transparency and detection of fraud. As this country continues to add to its rich cultural, ethnic, and religious diversity, these questions become increasingly complex, but the basic principles of consumer protection and integrity in food production, certification, and the labeling process translate to a need for substantive reform.