Chick-fil-A are one of the oldest established fast food restaurants in the United States with more than 2,600 restaurants across 47 states, Washington, D.C., Canada and Puerto Rico.
But for the large Islamic community in the US the question being asked is, is Chick-fil-A chicken halal and safe for Muslims to eat?
We take a look at this issue and explain just what it means for chicken to be considered halal.
We’ll also look at which aspects of Chick-fil-A food can be safely eaten by Muslims and the truth behind some of the rumors.
Is Chick-fil-A Chicken Halal & Can Muslims Eat It?
According to the Chick-fil-A company their chicken does not meet halal requirements and so is not considered halal.
This is because they have such a diverse customer base and cannot tailor menu items that reflect all preferences.
Their chicken is also supplied by a mixture of vendors, those who are halal and those who are not. There is no separation of the two types of chicken so no way for individual restaurants to choose one or the other.
There are some items on the menu that Muslims can safely eat, but these don’t form part of the main meals on offer and are confined to sides, desserts and beverages.
For most Muslims then it is not considered safe to eat the main menu items offered at Chick-fil-A as they are not halal.
When Is Chicken Considered Halal?
There are several conditions that must be met in order for chicken to be considered halal.
The word halal means permitted which indicates that it is safe for Muslims to eat. The opposite of halal is haram which translates as forbidden.
So the conditions that need to exist for chicken or other meat to be considered halal are as follows:
The slaughtering of the animal must be humane which means that there should be no suffering for the animal.
The use of clean water is mandatory. It is vital that the water used is clean and free from any impurities like bacteria or chemicals.
The animal must be healthy at the time of slaughter and free from disease. This ensures that the meat is fresh and free from potential disease.
A Muslim must do the slaughter. Islam requires that those who do the slaughtering and handle the meat are of good character and have clean hands.
The animal must be killed quickly. This is to prevent suffering and to ensure that the meat is tender.
All blood must be drained from the animal. This is to ensure that the meat is free of impurities
Not all parts of the chicken can be used. Only specific cuts are considered halal. For instance the internal organs and the neck are not halal.
Why Is Chick-fil-A Chicken Not Considered Halal?
There are a few reasons why the chicken at Chick-fil-A is not considered halal, and it isn’t all about how the animals are slaughtered.
It is reported in some places that the chicken used by the company contains steroids and hormones. However, according to the Chick-fil-A website the chicken breast meat that they use contains no fillers, steroids or artificial preservatives.
They also claim that there are no added hormones in their chicken which is sourced from farms in the United States.
This is in accordance with their Animal Wellbeing Standards and their pledge to source ‘no antibiotics ever’ chicken.
Does Chick-fil-A Use Oil Containing Traces Of Pork?
Some people believe that the oil that Chick-fil-A uses for its frying also contains pork which is haram for Muslims as eating pork is forbidden.
However, according to the company’s own website Chick-fil-A does not use oil containing pork.
The chicken at the restaurants is always cooked in peanut oil and has been since the foundation of the company. In fact Chick-fil-A is the largest buyer of peanut oil in the United States.
It’s not simply for the nutty flavor but also because peanut oil has a high smoke point making it perfect for creating chicken that is crispy on the outside but moist on the inside.
Peanut oil is also a non GMO crop and is free of gluten and carbohydrates.
For those who suffer from peanut allergies the food cooked in peanut oil poses no risk.
This is because the FDA has exempted highly refined peanut oil from being labeled an allergen as during the refining process the impurities and peanut proteins are removed.
To cook their waffle potato fries Chick-fil-A use canola oil. This is due to this oil’s neutral flavor which allows the flavor of the potato to shine through. Like peanut oil it also has a high smoke point.
So there is no trace of pork in the oil that Chick-fil-A uses in their frying process.
There have been reports that the chicken used in the Chick-fil-A sandwich is marinated in a mixture of spices and fruit juices which it is claimed contain traces of pork.
However, according to the company’s own website the marinade for their grilled chicken actually contains a blend of sea salt, lemon, garlic and savory herbs. There is no mention of any pork.
It is rumored that the chicken for the Chick-fil-A sandwich is marinated in a bath of pickle juice. Although chicken breast is lean and healthy it can also become dry and lack flavor when overcooked.
A marinade of pickle juice tenderizes the meat and removes any stringiness from it while introducing moisture and flavor.
This has not been confirmed by Chick-fil-A but is regarded as an open secret as to why their chicken tastes so good.
However, there isn’t any evidence that there is any pork contained in the marinade, so this cannot be used as a reason for considering Chick-fil-A’s chicken as haram.
Are Chick-fil-A Buns Halal?
Chick-fil-A buns have also been claimed to contain pork, although there is no evidence that supports this claim. The buns that are used are a white buttered bun, a gluten free bun, a multigrain brioche bun and a white, unbuttered bun.
While the company’s website does list the nutritional information for all its products as well as any potential allergens there is no list of ingredients for the buns. It is unclear where the idea that the buns contain pork traces came from.
Are Any Of Chick-fil-A Food Items Halal?
Although their chicken is not considered halal they do have items on their menu that are safe and permissible for Muslims to eat.
This includes their fruit cup, hash browns, mac and cheese side salad, English muffins, and waffle cut potato chips.
Obviously any other items on their menu which contain neither meat nor alcohol can be considered halal and suitable for consumption by Muslims. This includes desserts, beverages, snacks and salads.
Where Did The Idea That Chick-fil-A Chicken Is Halal Come From?
According to one source the news of Chick-fil-A serving halal chicken started in Baltimore, Maryland in 2015.
A Muslim convention was taking place across from a Chick-fil-A and news spread that they were serving halal chicken.
People began queuing up to buy the chicken sandwiches, even coming from out of state. Those attending the convention had confirmed that the Baltimore restaurant was using halal chicken.
In 2018 a restaurant in Houston, Texas was also found to be serving halal chicken at the same time as another Muslim convention in the area.
A couple of years later, rumors began that more Chick-fil-A restaurants were using halal vendors.
According to the company they do use halal chicken vendors as well as non halal vendors. Unfortunately they do not keep track of where the chicken from the halal vendors goes or which restaurants are using them.
Chicken from vendors goes to a Chick-fil-A distribution center and each restaurant owner and manager is free to choose which distribution center to use based on their location.
There is no way to know which centers are supplied by halal vendors and indeed most are supplied by a mixture of both halal and non halal chicken vendors.
For this reason the restaurants cannot guarantee that the chicken in their restaurants is definitely halal.
The question of whether Chick-fil-A chicken is halal has been answered, and it is clear that it is not halal.
However, for many Muslims it is a troubling issue as clearly there are halal chicken vendors and the issue is one of mixing halal and non halal meat.
Perhaps one day in the future there will be a clear division between the two so that those in the Muslim community can enjoy Chick-fil-A foods safely and in confidence.
We hope that you have enjoyed this guide to whether Chick-fil-A is halal and that you have found it both helpful and informative.
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