In the industry there are 2 main methods of slaughtering poultry:
Mechanical slaughter is one of the most controversial topics of the Halal slaughter process. Islamic scholars have detailed arguments for and against the use of this method. There is a large number of Muslim consumers who do not consider the mechanical slaughter method to meet their Halal standards and thus will neither purchase nor consume those products. There is no clear consensus on the validity of the use of mechanical slaughter method. On the other hand, all Islamic scholars and Muslim consumers universally agree upon the validity of the hand slaughter method.
As a Halal certifier promoting a higher and inclusive standard of Halal, HFSAA’s Halal standards only permit for the hand slaughter method. This ensures that every Muslim consumer is accommodated for and can consume HFSAA certified products.
Why Even Use The Debated Machine Slaughter Method?
The financial incentive results in mechanical slaughter being the most widely applied method in the industry. The majority of poultry in North America marketed as Halal is mechanically slaughtered. This includes poultry exported from North America to Muslim countries, poultry products sold in American Halal meat stores, and poultry products served in American restaurants with Halal foods.
Overview of the Machine Slaughter Process
The Debated Aspects of Machine Slaughter
The slaughterer must be either a Muslim or a believing Christian or Jew
The slaughterer should have the proper intention (Niyyah) for slaughter
The actions of a machine cannot substitute the actions of a human for religious actions.
The verbal blessing (Tasmiya) is not recited at all
The verbal blessing (Tasmiya) is not recited on every animal
The verbal blessing (Tasmiya) is recited by a third party
The verbal blessing (Tasmiya) is played via an electronic recording
The correct vessels are not severed
The backup slaughterer is not a Muslim
Islamic scholars have discussed an idealistic method in which the operator starts & stops the assembly line for the slaughter of each individual chicken, but this does not practically exist in the industry.
As mentioned previously, while there is much debate regarding the validity of the machine slaughter method, there is 100% acceptance of the hand slaughter method. The Sunnah method of slaughter is to apply the sharp instrument to the throat of the animal with one’s own hands. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself slaughtered 63 camels with his own hands during the Farewell Hajj. This is the high standard set by the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as one can imagine the time required to manually slaughter so many camels and the physical exertion undertaken for this task. The Prophetic model for the most humane method of taking the life of an animal involves a human’s personal care.
“He who leaves doubtful matters has indeed preserved his religion, [whereas] he who falls into doubtful matters will [eventually] fall into Haraam.”
In order to cater to the beliefs of all Muslims, the hand slaughter method should be given preference over mechanical slaughter. A handful (pun intended) of Muslim slaughterers can do the same job as the mechanical blade without any major difficulty and there are many poultry plants which do successfully employ the hand slaughter method. For example: Foster Farms, one of the largest poultry producers in the USA, has a Halal hand slaughter program under the brand “Tahir Chicken” and is Halal certified by HFSAA.
Muslim consumers should demand a higher standard of Halal when purchasing Halal products. HFSAA is proud to be able to implement a higher standard of Halal and provide consumers assurance that the animal was slaughtered according to the methods accepted by the vast majority of Muslims.