By Nikita Mandhani
Devon Avenue is packed with several grocery stores and restaurants that serve zabiha halal meat. With the influx of Muslim immigrants in the U.S. over the last few decades, halal food has become a recognized term in the American food business.
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According to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) — foremost halal-certifying organization in the country — the Arabic word halal means “lawful or permitted.” Most foods are considered halal except pork and its by-products, alcoholic drinks and intoxicants and carnivorous animals and birds of prey, among others.
“Zabiha” is the process of slaughtering a halal animal according to the Islamic method. The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) states that people who follow the zabiha standard eat meat that is slaughtered with the recitation of an Islamic prayer using a “sharp blade and skill” to minimize pain for the animal.
The Muslim population in the U.S. registered an increase from 205,157 in 1950 to about 7 million in 2010, according to the International Journal of Environmental Science and Development.
According to zabihah.com, Chicago and its suburbs currently have 159 halal stores and 316 halal restaurants. In the U.S., Halal meat must meet all federal and/or state meat inspection laws before it can be sold.