Halal Facts: Eating Out Alert For Halal Consumers

Eating out at a restaurant can be a fun treat. But, for a Muslim it can also be a pain! It is difficult enough to decipher product labels at the grocery store, but what do we do when we only have a menu?

There may be times when you have to go to a restaurant, whether it is with colleagues, for a friend’s party, or for a job interview. Unfortunately, Halal restaurants are not found everywhere. You can be prepared, though, with an idea of safe foods choices, and foods to avoid. As you read on you will gain tips to take along the next time you go to a restaurant.

Think about the ingredients in the dish you are ordering. Imagine you are at the grocery store looking at the label of the product you are about to order. What types of questionable (mashbooh) or haram ingredients might you find? It may be useful to carry a list of questionable ingredients and dishes with you when you go to a restaurant.

  • Sauces and soups may contain animal fat or meat based flavors. Pasta and pizza sauces may contain beef or chicken fat as a flavoring, and even vegetable soups may be made with chicken or beef stock.
  • Ask if wine is used in preparing your meal, especially if you are ordering fish, or a dish with a sauce. The server may reply that all the alcohol evaporates during cooking. In truth, alcohol will not completely evaporate during cooking, even if boiled. Simply choose another dish.
  • If ordering a fried food, see what other fried foods are offered. All fried foods are probably cooked in the same oil, whether a vegetarian sampler, seafood, or meat. Additionally, french fries and other battered foods may contain meat flavors in the batter.
  • Salads containing different types of lettuce, a variety of veggies, and topped with boiled eggs are a nutritious option that can be turned into a meal. Choose your dressing wisely, though; Low fat dressings may contain gelatin. If available, ask for olive oil and a lemon on the side.
  • Check to ensure pork is not present. Bacon and ham are sometimes used in vegetable dishes such as potato salad and as a topping for salads.

Restaurant Type 

The type of restaurant is also a factor. Buffets can be a Muslims worst nightmare. How often do you think people switch the serving spoons between meat and vegetables? In addition, how do you know what is really in that dumpling? Is it pork, beef, or vegetarian? There are a variety of stylish soup and sandwich cafés that cater to vegetarians or vegans.

Servers at these restaurants are often helpful with finding information about dishes. On the other hand, small diners usually use one large griddle for everything from sausage patties to vegetarian omelets. Many chains, from fast food to set-down restaurants, are now posting nutrition information online. This allows consumers to check the menu and ingredients ahead of time.

What other dishes are served at the restaurant? Is there pork or alcohol served? How comfortable are you with utensils touching your dish, and a non-halal dish? Chinese, Mexican, and other ethnic restaurants may be largely off limits. Chicken stock in the egg drop soup, pork lard in the refried beans, and meat mixed in with the rice. There are not many vegetarian options left.

Choose Halal

Of course, your best option is to choose a halal restaurant. If you are trying a new restaurant, ask if all the food is zabiha halal, or only certain dishes. Ask to see proof from the containers or bills. You may need to talk to a manager or owner, so consider calling ahead of time for arrangements.

Finally, just because you are dining at a halal restaurant, do not blindly eat anything on the menu. Just because someone owns or manages a restaurant does not mean that they know all the Islamic food laws, or that they are aware of the all the ingredients in the food they are serving. We alone are responsible for the food we eat, and the food we provide to our families.

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Written by: Suzanne Audi for Halal Consumer magazine (Spring 2007 edition) from IFANCA

Taking It To The Streets: Roti Bakar Eddy (The Foodie Magazine, Apr 2014)

Roti bakar stalls have become known places to “hang out” for many decades. And Roti Bakar Eddy has become one of the ultimate places to hang out, celebrate life and enjoy the rest of the evening with good treats and great company.

Oftentimes one would go to hawkers only for light snacks or just to enjoy the conversation over coffee, especially for late nights and weekends. This is practically the reason why Indonesians need the side street coffee shops like Roti Bakar Eddy. Even though nowadays, we witness the growing popularity of convenience stores as a new hang out place, all-nighter roti bakar hawkers are still very much in demand.

Roti Bakar Eddy 2

People usually come here either for a bowl of instant noodle with grated cheese and corned beef, or grilled banana with chocolate sprinkles, or the simple toast with jam. Some complement these with iced milk coffee, warm citrus drinks, or energy drinks like Milo or more traditionally a beer glass filled with fresh milk, ginger, honey, and eggs. Even they do have soft-boiled eggs as well like Singaporean kopitiams. It’s all simple and affordable for everyone.

Roti Bakar Eddy is located just nearby Al-Azhar mosque around Blok M. During the evening, this neighborhood is simply crowded and the success of Roti Bakar Eddy has been influencing different hawkers to join them there. This is the turf where everyone enjoys their dinner.

The story of how Roti Bakar Eddy became so influential was an arduous one. As one who was enchanted with the promises and opportunities from living in Jakarta, Pak Eddy arrived here in the late 60s. After a string of odd jobs to keep him and his family afloat, he decided to enter the hawker business. Challenges kept on coming until he finally proved his mettle by becoming the most famous in Jakarta and owns several other branches around the city run by his children.

Roti Bakar Eddy 3

Operating at this huge a scale, Roti Bakar Eddy bakes their own bread fresh everyday since hundreds upon hundreds of loaves are sold every night. At one point, you might find that your drinks or order of nasi uduk arrive sooner than the toast because so many people come and take away dozens of it for office overtime!

Mind you though because hanging around in traditional roti bakar seller like Pak Eddy may feel a bit noisy and smoky but nothing can beat the liveliness and spectacle of the sight. People came in to order their stuff, street musicians traverse from one hawker to another, cars passing by, and those who are already seated converse, laugh, and enjoy their meals. Once in a while, nothing can beat the excitement of hanging out the classic Jakarta way.

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ROTI BAKAR EDDY
Halal-friendly
Unsuitable for vegetarians

Address: Jalan Raden Patah (behind Al-Azhar University) and several other outlets in Jakarta – Indonesia
Tel: –

Opening hours: Everyday, 4pm – before dawn

Spend: IDR 15,000 – IDR 30,000 / person

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Featured in THE FOODIE MAGAZINE April 2014 edition

Download it for free here via SCOOP!

Photos by: Dennie Benedict

Foodie Quotes #13

Buzzfeed - Voltaire

“Ice cream is exquisite, what a pity it isn’t illegal”
– Voltaire

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Infographic by: buzzfeed.com ‘s Chris Ritter

[Infographic] Twenty Desserts From Around The World (by Lemonly)

After the movie snacks and breakfasts, it’s time for desserts from around the globe!

I figure that it’s almost time for you to decide where to have your lunch, so why not at a restaurant that has one of these? 😀

Lemonly - 20 Desserts Around The World

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Infographic by Lemonly

Halal Facts: E-Numbers – What Should Muslim Consumers Know?

If you live in or travel to the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, or another country in the European Union (EU), you will see that food label ingredient lists contain numbers beginning with the capital letter ‘E’. You can also find them in the U.S. on labels of international foods. These are known as ‘E-numbers.’

In the 1980s, the EU devised a numbering system to standardize food additive labeling. Each food additive, or a group of similar additives, is assigned its own number and is classified in a certain number grouping based on its function.

Functional Groupings:

Function E  and Number Range
Colorings >>> E100-E181
Preservatives >>> E200-E285 & E1105
Antioxidants >>> E300-E340
Acidity Regulators >>> Various numbers
Thickeners/Emulsifiers >>> E322, E400-499 and E1400-E1451
Anti-caking Agents >>> E550-E572
Flavor Enhancers >>> E600-E650
Glazing Agents >>> E900-E910
Sweeteners >>> E420, E421, E950-970

What is a Food Additive?

Food additives are present in very small amounts in manufactured foods and ingredients. European legislation explains that a food additive is “any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food.” Food additives are used for technological purposes, such as to form gels or to sweeten foods. Examples of food additives include the preservative BHT, the thickener carrageenan, and the emulsifier lecithin, and the sweetener aspartame.

Why E-numbers?

The E-numbering system fosters unity within the EU by facilitating the free movement of goods throughout the member countries. As there are many languages used throughout the EU, E numbers make listing food additives simple. It also allows manufacturers a shortcut method rather than listing long chemical names. The E-numbering system is useful not only as a regulatory tool, but also to consumers. Those with known allergies can easily screen products that may cause allergic reactions.

E-numbers are not used to disguise questionable or haram ingredients. The food additives that E-numbers represent are used in a safe and conscientious manner by food companies. All food ingredients should be consumed at safe levels, though. It is not wise to eat a pound of sugar in sitting because you would likely get a stomachache, headache, and have trouble sleeping. Over time, a daily diet consisting of one pound of sugar will most likely result in obesity or worse. Similarly, food additives are designed for specific uses, and are typically included at very minute, safe amounts.

For a complete list of E-numbers and the corresponding food additives visit here.

What should U.S. Muslim Consumers know?

In Islam, the word halal is used to designate what is permissible. As a result, pork, or pork derived ingredients, such as gelatin, cannot be consumed, Nor can animal or animal by-products from those animals which have not been slaughtered in the proper way. Food labels on products bought in the US will include actual ingredient names, so it is not necessary for US consumers to look for E numbers. Some international foods that are sold in the US, however, will also include an EU approved ingredient list with E-numbers. Some E numbers that are questionable for Muslims are E471 (mono-and diglycerides), E491 (sorbitan monostearate), and E570 (fatty acids). The E470’s consist mostly of fatty acid derivatives and fatty acids which are questionable as they may be derived from vegetable or animal sources.

From the Holy Quran:
“O you who believe! forbid not the good things which Allah has made ‘lawful’ for you, and transgress not. Lo! Allah loves not transgressors. Eat of that which Allah has bestowed on you as food ‘lawful’ and good, and keep your duty to Allah in whom you are believers.” (5:87-88)

As with any food or food additive, when dealing with E-numbers, Muslims need to pay attention to food labels and look for questionable ingredients on the ingredient list. In order to safeguard ourselves from eating what is doubtful or haram, be conscientious of the food you may eat, so that Your actions and attitudes become a way to please God. The IFANCA halal logo takes out the doubt. Consumers can rely on the safety and quality of IFANCA halal products.

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Written by: Suzanne Audi & Mariam Majeed for Halal Consumer magazine (Summer 2009 edition) from IFANCA

Updated the link for E-Numbers list from Food Standards Agency.