Specialty markets first supplied “halal” food to Muslims in America, then restaurants joined in the effort and now the very grocery stores from which you buy hamburger and chops are offering food that has been slaughtered according to Islamic ritual, according to responses from food outlets contacted by WND.

Islam requires Muslims to eat such “halal” food, which as part of the religion’s rituals already has been dedicated to the Muslim god Allah.

And it’s an alarming issue for Christians because the Bible warns against eating food previously dedicated to idols.

Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Wash., has explained in previous WND reports that eating food that’s “halal” would be the same as disregarding the Bible’s commands.

“From the Christian standpoint, Allah would be an idol,” Biltz told WND earlier.

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He explained, “In order for it to be halal, they have to slaughter the animal facing Mecca … and they have to say this prayer about Allah is great and greater than all other gods. Muslims can only eat food that is halal, that has been sacrificed to their idol, Allah … and with Allah’s name prayed over it.”

A spokeswoman for Safeway groceries told WND this week that the chain does, in fact, carry such food that Christians would consider has been offered to idols.

“We do carry halal items. We have a line of all-natural foods called Open Nature. Most of our Open Nature lamb is halal,” the official told WND.

Similar responses came from Walmart, ShopRite, Costco, SuperSaver and Whole Foods Market. There were no responses to the WND inquires from other companies, such as Kroger.

WND previously reported that restaurants such as Outback Steakhouse, KFC, Popeyes and Sizzler already are listed on an Islamic website as providing halal foods.

To be considered halal, the poultry, lamb or cattle must be slaughtered in a specific way including the shahada, or prayer, being said over each bird or animal. According to a Halal Authority website, slaughtering animals by this method can only be done by a practicing Muslim, who “blesses” the blade, faces Mecca, and prays to Allah before each animal’s throat is cut, while reciting a ritual prayer.

A major concern among Christians is not necessarily that the food is offered, but that the food is prepared in the Muslim ritual fashion with little or no notice for others to be aware of the accommodation to Muslims.

Parents in Britain were outraged last fall to learn that British school children were being fed meat slaughtered in accordance with Muslim teaching, regardless of their religion.

In the United States, Halal meals are making headlines as well. An Ohio death row inmate sued the state claiming the failure to provide halal meals was a restraint on his religious freedom.

The state of Ohio now is dealing with the demand.

Islamonline.net online is boasting, “Historically, halal certified products have been hard to come by in the U.S. from mainstream brands, but times are changing.”

And the Halal Authority website added, “Even in every day life a Muslim is commanded to commence all his deeds in the name of Allah. To slaughter in the name of Allah is compulsory and necessary.”

The London Daily Mail also recently reported how supermarkets in the United Kingdom were selling halal meat secretly.

An investigation found that most New Zealand lamb sold in major British supermarkets was halal, meaning that the prayer “In the name of Allah, who is the greatest” is said at the time of slaughter, the report said.

Another Daily Mail report found fast food giant McDonald’s admitting to selling halal chicken nuggets in all 1,200 of its British restaurants, reportedly from U.S. supplier Cargill.

Spokesman Mike Martin denied Cargill, the “second largest U.S. beef processor and third largest U.S. turkey processor,” was providing U.S. consumers with halal products.

There was no comment from Kroger, which operates thousands of grocery stores across the U.S., on its halal offerings but there is an online petition demanding that the company provide a halal section in their stores.

Whole Foods Market, with more than 300 stores in North America and Britain, already has made halal a large part of the product line.

The company website explains, “Halal is Islamic dietary law that applies, among other things, to meat and poultry, specifically prescribing certain slaughtering and processing practices.

“Saffron Road has created the first line of certified halal frozen entrees and they’re currently only available here at Whole Foods Market.”

And according to a “Pure Halal Center” website, talks are under way with Herr, the third largest snack food company in America, to certify halal products.

PHC said American Muslims represent $170 billion in spending power each year, and the market is growing.

“This [halal] is coming to a store near you. This is all over,” Biltz warned in WND’s earlier report.

“At a restaurant, you’re not going to know [if the food is halal] unless you ask,” he said. “I think we need to be aware of these things because they don’t want Christians to know because they just want to sell it and get it out there. … A lot of people don’t want you to know it’s going all over the world.”

But the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America’s was pleased.

A Fall 2010 newsletter said, “Islamophobia has really been muddying the waters this year, be it attacks on Campbell Soup for having halal options or Muslims wanting a Community Center in Lower Manhattan. Given the negativity in the air, it is heartening to share the many strides that halal is making, especially at the retail level.”

But Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association also has expressed alarm.

“To see where things are going with this whole halal business, look no further than the U.K., where grocers have gone whole-hog – pardon the expression – on offering halal meat but without telling anybody about it.

“Shariah law is no longer creeping up on us. It’s bearing down on us at full gallop. It’s time for Christian civilization to grab the reins of this runaway horse and stop it dead in its tracks. No Shariah law in America, period.”

Biltz has explained the command for Christians is clear. He notes New Testament instructions specifically warning Christians:

“Stay away from food that has been offered to idols (which makes it unclean), any kind of sexual sin, eating animals that have been strangled, and blood.” (Acts 15:20, New Century Version)

Subway promotes its halal products mostly in the United Kingdom, and spokesman Les Winograd has told WND: “The way we look at it from a business point of view is here’s a group of individuals who traditionally cannot eat out. They cannot eat your average name-brand fast food. When they travel, they have to bring their own food. They’re consumers, they’re buying things. We want to be able to tell them, ‘There’s a safe place for you to eat.’ That’s definitely worth something in their eyes. Here’s a brand that cares about me, too. It’s kind of an untapped market, so building brand equity is a good thing.”

In 2009, Domino’s Pizza enraged many British customers when it completely removed pork from its pizzas in favor of halal-only meat at three of its branches in Birmingham, Bradford and Blackburn. By mid-2010, the company reversed itself and returned to its original menu because of poor customer response.

The Campbell Soup Company also caused a stir when it launched an expanded line of vegetarian soups all certified as halal.

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