Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Food Technology

Committee Member

Angela M Fraser

Committee Member

E. Jeffery Rhodehamel

Committee Member

Xiuping Jiang

Committee Member

William Bridges


Halal foods, foods permissible per Islamic law, are a fast-growing segment of the global food industry. Most microbiological evidence about halal foods is from studies conducted in Muslim-majority countries not western (Muslim-minority) countries. We aimed to determine the microbiological quality of halal beef at both slaughter and retail in the southeastern United States as well as explore the role of Halal Certifying Bodies (HCBs) in overseeing implementation of food safety practices. The study was informed by two main hypotheses: (1) microbial load will be lower in the post-evisceration slaughter stage of beef carcass samples; (2) indicator organisms will be higher when the samples collected from small business halal and non-halal meat markets.

A total of 432 beef carcass samples and 59 environmental samples from two halal beef slaughterhouses and 138 beef cuts (72 halal beef and 66 non-halal beef) from small retail markets were collected each month between November 2016 and October 2017. All samples were analyzed for the presence of indicator organisms — aerobic plate counts (APCs), generic Escherichia coli (ECCs), total coliform counts (TCCs), and Enterobacteriaceae counts (ECs). Samples taken between June and September 2017 were also analyzed for Salmonella spp., E. coli O157:H7, and shiga toxin-producing E. coli (non-O157 STEC). In all slaughterhouse samples, the levels of indicator microorganisms were below the maximum acceptable microbial limits established by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods and the European Union. A significant relationship (P ˃0.03) was shown between APCs, ECCs, TCCs, and ECs and detectable levels of pathogenic non-O157 STEC and Salmonella spp. in pre-evisceration samples. High levels of indicator microorganisms were shown in both halal and non-halal retail meat samples suggesting operation size not halal or non-halal meat classification is associated with microbiological quality. These data can be used to inform food safety interventions targeting halal meat operations in the southeastern United States.

Representatives from HCBs concluded that federal government agencies (i.e., USDA/FSIS, FDA) have excellent programs in place to ensure implementing food safety practices in food manufacturing environments. These individuals also stated that the role of HCBs was to verify that all records and documents of food safety are in place and in compliance with government regulations. Our study confirmed that food safety and halal are in tandem in the United States as halal standards imply safe.



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