The Varsity went to all 28 food locations at UTSC, 15 of which were able to produce halal certificates.
Staff at nine locations claim that all of their menu items are halal. Ten locations serve halal items alongside non halal items, but staff claim that they prepare the items separately. Meanwhile, two other locations also serve halal proteins alongside non halal proteins, but the extent to which these proteins come into contact with each other remains unclear. At seven locations, staff confirmed that none of their meats are halal.
The Varsity was not able to verify whether the proteins available in on-campus vending machines are halal. The Varsity also did not include beverage outlets such as Booster Juice and Chatime in its analysis.
Staff at Hero Certified Burgers and Pitalite claim that they only serve halal food. Their menus do not contain any pork or alcoholic beverages. 1265 Bistro also exclusively serves halal proteins and does not serve any pork, but the establishment does serve alcohol. Staff at Hero Certified Burgers and 1265 Bistro showed The Varsity their halal certificates, while staff at Pitalite were not able to produce its certificate to The Varsity in time for publication.
Companies can receive Halal certificates from third party certifying agencies if they meet halal standards based on the Quran’s classifications of what is haram (forbidden) and halal (permissible). These standards include ensuring that foods contain no alcohol or pork, keeping haram and Najasa (impure) products separate from halal foods, and butchering animals in a certain way.
The packed sandwiches at the INS Market are halal certified, while the Jamaican patties are not.
Staff at Asian Gourmet claim that the four chicken dishes they serve are halal, but could not clarify whether the chicken comes into contact with other types of meat in the kitchen. They told The Varsity that they do not have a halal certificate because not all of their proteins are halal.
Lastly, staff at KFC and Subway told The Varsity that none of their meats are halal.
“Ninety-nine per cent of the time, our products are halal,” said Leroy Whisker — the executive chef for Aramark at UTSC — in an interview with The Varsity. He said that everything made in house at the Market Place is halal except for pork, turkey, and veal dishes.
Whisker was able to show The Varsity copies of the Market Place’s halal certificate. He said that the Market Place sources all its proteins from Sysco — a US-based multinational food distribution company that offers halal-certified meat.
In addition, staff do not cook halal and non halal proteins with the same equipment at the same time. “The two are never crossing one another… We keep them separate as much as possible,” he said.
Whisker said that when he started in his role last August, he converted the majority of proteins at the Market Place into halal because he wanted to prevent confusion among customers.
For example, he switched the pepperoni used for pizzas in Pizza Pizza from regular to halal. He also eliminated pork from Noodle Fix and Zoca in order to reduce the opportunities for halal and non halal proteins to come into close contact with each other. “If [a dish is] not halal, we’ll put a sign out,” he said.
Now, Whisker is working to get hotdog sausages and Italian sausages that are halal. “Whatever we can get halal, we’ll do halal,” he said.
All menu items at Food Lab, Salad Bar, Noodle Fix, and Zoca are halal. Pizza Pizza offers both halal and non-halal proteins. Make Bakery does not sell meat but does sell Rice Krispies, which may contain gelatin.
Meanwhile, The Local Grill House, Chopsticks, Tavolino, Ready to Go, and Hot Grab and Go serve non halal meals alongside halal meals. The Local Grill House sells bacon and non halal sausages in the mornings for breakfast; Chopsticks sells pork bellies; and Ready to Go sells turkey sandwiches. While the beef patties, meat pie, beef savoury pastries, and chicken savoury pastries at Hot Grab and Go are halal, its chicken patties are not halal, because the Market Place orders them from an external company.
Lastly, the packaged chicken teriyaki at Bento Sushi is not halal, as the Market Place chefs do not make that dish in the kitchen. Bento Sushi also serves pork gyoza and barbeque pork steamed buns.
Whisker added that during Ramadan, the Market Place offers food for students to order online and pick up in the evening.
Staff at La Prep told The Varsity that their roast beef is halal certified but could not clarify whether the roast beef comes into contact with other types of meat in the kitchen.
At the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre, staff at Tim Hortons and Pizza Pizza said that none of their meats are halal. Meanwhile, staff at Pool Sides Bar and Grill told The Varsity that only their chicken meats are halal, except for their chicken tenders and chicken wings. However, they use separate pans, cutting boards, and knives to prepare their halal and non halal proteins. Pool Sides staff were able to show The Varsity their halal certificate.
Staff at the Starbucks and the Tim Hortons in the Bladen Wing said that none of their meats are halal. Meanwhile, staff at the Tim Hortons Express Kiosk in the Humanities Wing said that all their menu items are halal as they only serve coffee and meatless pastries at that location.
Gathering Grounds is run by Aramark. Whisker said that while the chicken patties there are not halal, the beef patties are.
At the Social Sciences Building, Alijandro’s serves all halal food items. Staff were able to show The Varsity their halal certificate.