More commonly known as French fries in many countries, hot chips are one of the most beloved fast foods around. Although often served as a side dish or accompaniment, hot chips are so much more than that. Their simple form and delicious flavor have made them not just a staple but a keystone of many meals; but which of the many hot chips available are halal?
Tesoro, Selection and Reddy Raw Blue are some frozen hot chips that are certified halal. Others are Max, Tesco, Cosecha Dorada, Mccain and Strong Roots. For hot chips made in restaurants, this will largely depend on whether or not the restaurant is halal.
In this article, I will explain why some hot chips are not halal, how to tell if hot chips are halal, and what exactly halal means. What can you do if you can’t find halal foods? Read on to find out.
Why Some Hot Chips Are Not Halal
It seems strange that some hot chips may not be considered halal. After all, aren’t they simply cut potatoes? Well, yes and no. While hot chips are essentially just potatoes that have been cut into finger-sized pieces, preparation plays an important role.
When buying hot chips from a restaurant, there are many things to consider with regards to the food. The core ingredient isn’t the only thing that determines whether or not something is halal. Anything else that becomes part of the food is also relevant, such as:
- Cooking oil
- Cross-contamination with other foods.
So, if we’re talking about a particular restaurant, we need to ensure that the cooking oil itself is halal. We also need to determine if that same oil was previously used for cooking non-halal foods before being used on our hot chips.
What about flavorings, animal fats, and stocks that might have been used? Are they halal too?
Finally, there is the question of cooking utensils and storage. Could the hot chips have picked up tiny bits of non-halal foods through either proximity or unwashed utensils?
The reality is that any of these things might cause hot chips to no longer be halal. And that’s only if the hot chips were halal to begin with. Not all of them are.
Many restaurants and we too use frozen hot chips for ease and comfort. However, what many people don’t realize is that these frozen fries are pre-fried before they’re frozen and packed. That means that any animal essences present in the oils have already been infused into the chips.
How to Tell If Hot Chips Are Halal
As I’ve explained, the ways in which chips can become non-halal are numerous and easy to overlook. For that reason, the easiest way to find out if hot chips are halal is to have someone else do the work for you.
By this I don’t mean that you should simply tell someone else to find out. There are already people and organizations who do that. What you need to do, then, is be aware of them.
Whether you’re looking at store-bought food or items on a restaurant’s menu, the best solution is to look for the little halal symbol. The symbol looks like a crescent moon with a star and is a certification that the food is halal.
This method is easy enough to cover most pre-packaged food, but it can get a little more complicated when dealing with restaurants.
If it isn’t a halal restaurant to begin with, they may not use the symbol for certain foods. Also, smaller restaurants may not list any certifications at all. In cases like these, the fact is that you cannot be sure whether or not their hot chips or any other foods are halal.
If you trust the owner or those working in the kitchen, you could ask them about their ingredients, oils and anything else related. This is really your only option in finding out about food from such places. Of course, you could seek answers to your question regarding the restaurant online, but you will need to verify the source of any information you find.
What Halal Means
In its simplest form, halal refers to food that is permitted to be eaten by Muslims. The specifics can vary greatly depending on the kind of food.
Many people are aware that pork and other products from pigs are not halal. Still, there are actually many animals that fall into this category, such as reptiles, carnivores and amphibians.
When it comes to permitted animals, halal refers largely to how the animals were fed and slaughtered. A prayer is also said during the slaughtering process. Consideration must also be given to which parts of the carcass are eaten, as certain body parts are not considered halal.
These same rules apply to other food products that come from these animals. In other words, animal fats and essences are only halal if they come from animals that were halal.
Another well-known item is alcohol, which is not halal. If alcohol or any other intoxicants have been used in the cooking or preparation in any way, the food will not be halal.
What to Do If You Can’t Find Halal Certifications
If you are unable to find foods that are certified halal, there are a few alternatives, though they will require a little extra research. For hot chips and other such products, a good idea would be to look for brands and preparations that are certified vegan.
In most cases, vegan products will also be halal. The one main exception is the usage of alcohol. If you can ensure that no alcohol was used to make or prepare the food, then vegan foods are a good choice.
The other alternative, which is especially ideal not just with regards to infusions but the meat itself, is kosher foods. Kosher refers to food that has been prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws.
When halal foods are not available, Muslims are allowed to eat kosher foods. The only caveat here, as with vegan foods, is that you will need to ensure that the food was neither made nor prepared with alcohol.
As much as we may love hot chips and as simple a food as it may seem to be, finding halal brands can be challenging – especially if the market in the area is not primarily so.
While the best option would be to find an official halal certification, there may be other things we can do, such as using alternatives to halal or finding restaurants and vendors whose words and methods can be trusted.
- Halal Foodhunt: What’s Not Halal About … French Fries?
- Halal Haram: French Fries
- Tesco: Halal – Frozen French Fries
- British Broadcasting Corporation: What is halal meat?
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: General Guide for Use of the Term “Halal”
- I am going vegan: Is All Vegan Food Halal?
- Muslim Matters: Is Kosher Meat Halal? A Comparison of the Halakhic and Shar’i Requirements for Animal Slaughter