BBC has confirmed about the UK market what NBC had established about the US market years ago: that ground beef contains pork and other meats etc. This once again raises concern for those Muslims who consume general market ground beef.
A few weeks ago, BBC reported that pork and horse meat was found in beef burgers on sale in the U.K. and Ireland. A total of 27 products were analyzed, with 10 of them containing horse DNA and 23 containing pig DNA. Horsemeat accounted for approximately 29% of the meat content in one sample. As well, 31 beef meal products, including cottage pie, beef curry pie and lasagna, were studied, of which 21 tested positive for pig DNA.
This is not the first time we’ve discovered that mainstream meat is often mystery meat. In the United States, pork, drug resistant bacteria, C.Difficile, and pink slime have been found in supermarket beef. NBC Dateline, a few years ago, broadcasted their ten-city ground beef research. Although in the United States it is illegal to sell “mixed meats” as pure ground beef, the report found it still takes place.
In the Quran, the food we consume is discussed clearly and in detail. What we eat is not a minor issue, and meat is given specific attention.
“Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than God; that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars); (forbidden) also is the division (of meat) by raffling with arrows: that is impiety. This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, God is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” (Quran 5:3).
Almost the entire Muslim world eats animals prepared according to Islamic rites. However, a minority of scholars in America allow consumption of what is often termed “supermarket meat”. One group argues that it falls under the category of the meat of the Jews and Christians, thus making it acceptable for Muslim consumption. Most other scholars, however, hold the view that all meat that Muslims consume must be slaughtered in a specific manner (the term for this process is called Dhabiha or Zabiha), and the name of Allah said at the time of slaughter. This is why they believe Muslims cannot eat meat from the corner grocery store.
The discussion, though, must also be considered in the context of God’s order to eat not only what is Halal but Tayyib as well. Tayyib is an Arabic word which means wholesome, pure, nutritious, and safe.
“O ye who believe! Eat of the good things wherewith We have provided you, and render thanks to Allah if it is (indeed) He whom ye worship” (2:172).
In our context though, Muslims should remember that the cost and convenience of supermarket meat usually does not outweigh the health and spiritual benefits of Zabiha meat. But the solution goes beyond buying meat at the local Halal grocery store. Halal meat stores may buy from the same sources as supermarkets, with the exception being that the animal is slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines. This fulfills the obligation of the animal to be Halal, but it is far from Tayyib.
This is why the option of choosing organic, Halal meat slaughtered Islamically seems to be the best at this moment. Across the U.S., some Muslims have started offering this service, but the cost makes it difficult for many families to buy. It will take more Muslims putting their money where their meat is to lower costs for everyone in the long run.