Is McDonald's UK HALAL? (Fish O Filet, Strawberry Milkshake)
McDonald's is the most popular fast food chain in the world and feeds 1% of the world's global population each day.
It's no wonder then that Muslims are often wondering whether McDonald's serves halal meat or any halal products, not just in its home country of the United States, but in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia too.
So, is McDonald's halal under Islamic law with a valid halal certificate in each of its restaurants, or are its popular menu items impermissible for Muslim customers to eat? It's time to find out.
What is McDonald's
McDonald's is an American fast-food chain with 40,000 restaurants in over 119 countries worldwide. As of 2023, they had revenues of over $23 billion and employed over 200,000 people.
The concept of McDonald's was founded by brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California. As was made public knowledge in the film The Founder, Ray Kroc approached the brothers to franchise the concept to the rest of the world. In the process, Ray Kroc started to purchase the land on which McDonald's restaurants were built and as a result McDonald's is one of the bigger real estate owners in the world.
Today McDonald's locations serve hundreds of items globally, including Muslim-majority countries and in the UK where there is also a large Muslim population.
Is McDonald's halal certified?
According to an official post on McDonald's UK website, McDonald's trialled a halal restaurant in Southall, London in the UK. Unfortunately they found that halal-certified food is only popular with a small percentage of their customers and to offer it in all their restaurants would require significant changes to kitchen procedures and supply chain.
As a result, McDonald's has decided against offering halal meat products in the UK for the time being. They also do not serve halal meat in the United States, Russia or Canada as of 2023.
However, McDonald's does have halal certification and a halal menu in countries like India, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Germany and Pakistan.
In these countries McDonald's supply chain is certified halal and serves items like halal Chicken McNuggets and halal-certified meat (beef) in their pure halal beef patties for their Muslim majority customers.
Is McDonald's chicken halal?
McDonald's UK offers a variety of chicken-based meals including Chicken Nuggets, McSpicy, McCrispy and the McChicken Sandwich.
Unfortunately in the UK, these chicken sandwiches are not halal as McDonald's confirmed that their animal products are sourced from non-halal slaughterhouses.
Is McDonald's filet o fish halal?
McDonald's filet-o-fish is made up of a white Hoki or Pollock fish in crispy breadcrumbs, with cheese and tartare sauce, in a steamed bun.
Under Islamic dietary laws, fish is halal to eat as Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
“Lawful to you is game from the sea and its food as provision for you and the travelers…” [Quran 5:96]
However, there is often concern by Muslim communities that the fish may be cooked in the same fryer as the meat resulting in cross contamination with haram foods. McDonald's has confirmed that they use separate oil for frying their fish fillet patties.
Finally, while there is debate around whether some cheeses like Parmesan are halal, the processed cheese slice in a Filet-O-Fish is not known to use rennet enzyme from non-halal animals.
As a result, most Muslims consider McDonald's UK Filet-O-Fish to be halal to eat.
Is McDonald's frappe halal?
McDonald's Caramel Iced frappé has 319 kcal and is one of the most popular coffee-based drinks served in McDonald's.
Its ingredients include crushed ice, skimmed milk, cream, sugar, fructose, dextrose, soluble coffee, natural flavourings, stabilisers, salt, sweetened condensed milk and glucose syrup.
However, while there is clearly no gelatine in McDonald's frappes, McDonald's have confirmed that alcohol is used during the manufacturing process of the Caramel Iced Frappe, Chocolate Chip Iced Frappe and whipped cream ingredients.
"The level of alcohol is very low and evaporates during the process. The alcohol level in the final Caramel Iced Frappe, Chocolate Chip Iced Frappe and whipped cream is less than 0.05%."
When in doubt, Muslims should seek to avoid foods that have any presence of alcohol, as alcohol is not permissible to consume under Islamic rules. However, according to some madhabs, it is the intoxication of alcohol that makes it haram under dietary laws and as there is such a low percentage of alcohol, they do not consider it to be haram to consume.
As always, Allah knows best and when there is no definitive answer Muslims should always err on the side of caution.
Is McDonald's strawberry milkshake halal?
There is a common misconception amongst British Muslims that McDonald's strawberry milkshake contains cochineal, a red dye that comes from a scale insect which would be haram for Muslims consumers to eat.
However, in a post in 2018 made on the McDonald's UK website, on whether the strawberry milkshake contains cochineal, they state:
"No. The strawberry milkshake served in our U.K. restaurants contains the natural colour Beetroot Juice Concentrate. In fact, our strawberry milkshakes have been approved as suitable for vegetarians by the Vegetarian Society."
Other ingredients in the strawberry milkshake include milk, sugar, whey powder, glucose syrup, stabilisers, strawberry juice concentrate, beetroot juice concentrate, citric acid and preservative. The only concern would be around the whey powder and whether it is made using animal-based rennet.
However on the whole, it is widely considered that the McDonald's strawberry milkshake is halal.
Is McDonald's cheeseburger halal?
This is an easy one to answer. As McDonald's cheeseburgers are primarily made up of beef patties which are sourced from non-halal animals, and as McDonald's UK have confirmed they do not serve halal-certified meat, then the cheeseburgers are not halal or permissible for Muslims to eat.
Likewise, the McDonald's Big Mac is also not halal due to the existence of beef inside its sesame seed bun.
Is McDonald's ice cream halal?
McDonald's serves a range of ice creams on their restaurant menus in the UK (when the machines are actually working!). In 2023, there are no soft serve on cones, but instead McDonald's serves the McFlurry in a range of different flavours including Cadbury Flake Chocolate, Raspberry, Oreo, Maltesers and Smarties.
McDonald's have confirmed that their ice cream products do not contain any alcohol and does not contain any non-vegetarian fats. It is also approved as vegetarian by the Vegetarian Society.
There is debate over whether the Smarties McFlurry have traces of animal rennet used in the whey product in Smarties. On the Smarties website, they state that none of the Smarties products are halal certified, but that Smarties are suitable for a vegetarian (but not vegan) diet. Other sweet manufacturers like Welch's Fruit Snacks are known to be haram as they contain pork and beef gelatin.
Again, Allah knows best and when in doubt, it is recommended for Muslims to avoid eating certain foods.
Is McDonald's apple pie halal?
McDonald's Apple Pie has 243 kcal and is made from water, apple, what flour, vegetable oils, sugar, corn starch, dextrose, salt, lemon juice concentrate, spices and flavourings.
McDonald's have confirmed that there are no ingredients of animal origin in the Apple Pies, however, the Apple Pie is fried in non-hydrogenated vegetable oil and McDonald's state that they may come into contact with oil that has been used to fry chicken and fish products.
As a result, there is doubt over whether McDonald's Apple Pie is halal as it is unknown whether they are fried in the same oil as non-halal chicken products.
Are McDonald's chips halal?
McDonald's french fries are one of the most well-known products on the menu and have been consistently served to a lot of people in various countries.
While McDonald's don't certify their fries as halal, and the website states they are cooked in vegetable oil, originally the french fries were cooked in beef tallow. However, in 2023, McDonald's say:
"Our fries are not coated in any fats or substances from an animal. McDonald's UK French Fries are made by McCain's using Russet Burbank, Pentland Dell and Shepody potatoes, which are chosen for their quality, taste and long shape when cut. Once at the restaurant, our fries are simply cooked in dedicated frying vats in a non-hydrogenated blend of sunflower and rapeseed oil which is 100 percent suitable for vegetarians. In fact, McDonald's French Fries are officially accredited by the Vegetarian Society."
As a result, McDonald's french fries are halal for Muslim customers to eat.
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