We receive many enquiries about whether it is permissible to eat from various non-Muslim food outlets better known as takeaways or fast food 'restaurants'. It appears that the fast-food culture and ethos is firmly engraved in the society of Muslims. Anyhow, in view of these concerns, the Foodguide has prepared a piece offering guidance. We sincerely pray to Allah that this will assist Muslims to decide whether to abstain (or not as the case may be). In any case, with the help of Allah, we intend to highlight the various problems and issues that threaten the Halaal status of food served at such places.
A Short Guide to Choosing a Halaal food outlet
Who Manages the food outlet? The food outlet must be owned (not managed) by reliable, trustworthy Muslims . They should be conscious and sensitive to Islamic requirements. If you are in doubt, avoid it - that is best for your taqwa and is certainly for the betterment of your Imaan.
Are there any food contamination concerns? Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala encourages the Muslims to eat those food products which are Tayyib that is to say that they would are deemed halaal beyond doubt so be very careful about the risks of contamination. It is a surprise to some, but Halaal foods fried in the same oil as Haraam are no longer Halaal. Halaal foods smeared by Haraam oils or other bits and bats cease to be Halaal. We need to know how food is prepared in the kitchen to assess the risks of contamination with Haraam foods etc. From testimonies of persons who have worked in these kitchens, we can say with relative certitude that the risk of contamination is extremely high. Once I asked a colleague who worked in Pizza Hut on the weekends if the vegetarian pizzas are painstakingly kept separate from the meat pizzas e.g. separate knives, utensils etc. The colleague said that usually but when the kitchen gets busy no one is so orthodox about such matters and separate knives do not become an issue. Welcome to the world of fast food folks!
Another example, a strictly fish outlet - served nothing but only fish - looked absolutely fine until a Muslim employee expressed concern that the owner and family regularly prepare their meals at the same kitchen serving pork, bacon, etc. prepared in the same fryer, utensil, etc.
If Haraam is sold in the outlet, take my advice and get right out. Is it really worth the risk? Are their no trustworthy Muslim takeaways, fast-food places? Seek a viable alternative.
Do they serve Alcohol? Some justify frequenting food outlets serving alcohol with comments like "alcohol is not served" or "not served to us".
We must remember that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) warns Muslims to stay aloof from those places where one could be accused of participating in Haraam e.g. drinking alcohol. Please be clear in your minds that food prepared by non-Muslims or served in a restaurant serving alcohol is not Tayyibaat (not Halaal beyond doubt). Clearly, It is not permissible to eat from restaurants that serve alcohol.