According to the religion of Islam, it is compulsory for all Muslims to eat and drink only in the manner set forth in the Islamic holy book, the Koran. Food that is considered "halal," or prepared according to the Koran's dictates, must meet a number of strict guidelines related to ingredients, preparation and cooking.
Halal food must not include or come into contact with any food or substance that Islamic law considers filthy, including filth itself, pork, blood and carrion, and clean substances that have come into contact with filth.
In the Koran, animals are divided into two categories: land animals and water animals. All land animals can be eaten except pigs; dogs; carnivorous animals that kill and slash, such as tigers and bears; scavengers and birds of pray; animals permitted to be freely killed in Islam, such as rats, scorpions and centipedes; animals forbidden from being killed in Islam, such as ants, bees and woodpeckers; and animals that are considered repulsive, such as lice and maggots. All water animals can be eaten except those that are intoxicated or harmful to humans.
All plants can be eaten except those toxic to humans.
Beverages can be consumed in all forms, except those that are filthy, harmful to humans or contain alcohol.
Slaughtering of Animals
There are a number of rules related to slaughtering animals for food. The animal must be killed with as little pain as possible. The killing must be done by a healthy, mature Muslim of sound mind who is aware that the animal is a gift from Allah and who thanks Allah for it. The animals must be living in a comfortable habit and not be in a state of stress. When killed, the respiratory tract, oesophagus and jugular vein must be severed to maximise blood letting and minimise pain to the animal. The instrument used to kill the animal must be sharp, to minimise pain, and must not be made of bones, nails or teeth.
Muslims may not drink alcohol, but most Islamic leaders allow medicines and fragrances containing alcohol to be used, as well as the consumption of certain fermented foods.
All halal foods must be stored, displayed and served separately from other foods, to prevent contamination.
Halal food can only be prepared using equipment that has not been contaminated by other food. This includes knives, containers and preparation areas. The food must be free from infestation by vermin or insects, and workers preparing the food must be in good health and wearing protective clothing to maintain the food's cleanliness. The kitchen and washrooms must also be kept clean as well.