US county passes law on halal meat

Officials in one Michigan county are making it illegal for restaurant owners, butchers and other food sellers to falsely claim that their meat conforms to Islamic or Jewish religious laws.

    Violators of the new law can face a $500 fine and 90 days in jail

    A food seller violating the new ordinance, which goes into effect next month, could face a $500 fine and up to 90 days in jail, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News reported on Friday. 

    The county regulation means health inspectors can issue fines.

    Thursday's move came after the Wayne County Commission received several complaints that sellers said meat was certified as halal or conforming to Islamic regulations, when it was not.

    "As the popularity of halal has increased, so have complaints," county executive Robert Ficano said.

    "Butchers now can simply say their meat is halal and charge a premium price."

    Now businesses claiming to sell halal or kosher items must post signs identifying the slaughterhouse and wholesaler.

    Halal food includes beef, lamb or chicken slaughtered according to Islamic law.

    According to Islamic law, halal meat must come from an animal slaughtered in the name of God.

    Kosher food is prepared according to Jewish rules.

    A similar 1966 state law protects kosher products, and a state law passed in 2002 allows police to enforce a similar halal rule.

    While halal food was once hard to find, it is now available at a number of chain supermarkets and restaurants in metropolitan Detroit.

    They include two McDonald's restaurants and a Big Boy restaurant in Dearborn, centre of southeastern Michigan's Arab-American community of about 300,000.

    Similar statewide statutes have been enacted in New Jersey and Illinois in recent years, and Muslims in some other states are lobbying for such laws, said Rabiah Ahmed of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington.



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