Pizza Express is one of the most iconic and beloved pizza chains across the United Kingdom. With close to 400 locations nationwide, it has been serving up delicious, freshly baked pizzas, pastas, salads, and more to millions of hungry Brits since 1965.
However, for Muslim customers, there’s an important question that needs to be answered before dining at Pizza Express – is it halal?
This comprehensive guide will examine all the key factors around halal diet and certification when it comes to Pizza Express. Read on for the detailed reveal on whether this popular restaurant chain meets Islamic dietary standards.
What Does “Halal” Actually Mean?
Let’s start with a quick refresher on what the term “halal” signifies. Halal is an Arabic word that in its broadest sense means “permissible” or “lawful” according to Islamic law.
When it comes to food and drink, for something to be considered truly halal it must meet certain requirements as per Quranic guidelines and Muslim ethics. Here are the key criteria:
Permitted Animals – Any meat product must come from an animal that is allowed for Muslim consumption. These include cows, lamb, goats, chickens, ducks, deer, ostriches, and others. Meanwhile, pork and pork by-products are completely forbidden.
Humane Slaughter – Permitted animals must be slaughtered humanely according to Islamic tradition. This involves making a ritual cut across the throat while reciting “Bismillah” in the name of Allah. Animals should not be mistreated or suffer unnecessary pain in life or death.
No Contamination – Halal foods cannot come into contact with any non-halal substances throughout the supply chain. This means no cross-contamination during storage, preparation, processing, transportation or service. Kitchen surfaces, equipment and utensils must be thoroughly cleaned between handling halal and non-halal food.
Wholesome Ingredients – All foods and beverages are assessed for whether they are considered wholesome and pure for Muslim consumption. Any haram or prohibited ingredients like alcohol, pork by-products or carnivorous animals make the end product not halal.
Halal Certification – Restaurants and food companies should obtain halal certification from an accredited halal authority. This audit process verifies that all criteria are consistently being met from ingredients right through to final service.
Following these halal guidelines is very important for observant Muslims. Consuming food that does not adhere to Islamic standards would compromise their religious beliefs. Having proper halal certification provides the assurance and peace of mind that they can dine without question.
Does Pizza Express Use Halal Chicken and Other Meats?
Now that we understand the key principles of halal, let’s examine the specific ingredients used at Pizza Express.
Chicken is one of the most popular pizza and pasta toppings, so it’s one of the biggest concerns when evaluating halal status. Up until January 2022, Pizza Express had advertised that they use halal chicken sourced from accredited suppliers in all their dishes. However, an announcement came that shocked many of their Muslim diners – Pizza Express was removing halal chicken from their menus moving forward.
The restaurant chain cited supply chain challenges and cost pressures as the reason for this change. They reassured customers that while their chicken would no longer be halal-certified, it would still meet high welfare standards. But for observant Muslims, this news meant Pizza Express chicken toppings would now be considered haram.
Beyond chicken, Pizza Express has also confirmed that none of their other meat toppings like pepperoni, sausage, or beef are sourced from halal-slaughtered animals. No prayer or ritual cut is performed. Moreover, many of their meat products contain pork, which is completely forbidden in Islam.
While the chicken and meat toppings may come from ethical farms, the lack of halal slaughter makes them unacceptable for Muslim consumption. So the verdict is clear – all meat pizzas and dishes at Pizza Express as of 2023 are not considered halal.
What About Cross-Contamination Risks?
On top of the actual meat ingredients, there are additional factors that make Pizza Express problematic from a halal standpoint. Namely, the high risk of cross-contamination given how they store, handle and prepare both halal and haram foods in the same kitchens.
Even if some menu items like seafood or vegetarian pizzas may contain halal base ingredients, cross-contamination can easily occur through:
Shared storage freezers, refrigerators containing both halal and non-halal meats
Use of same surfaces, tables, cutting boards, utensils and cooking equipment for halal and haram
Ovens used to cook both halal and non-halal products one after another
Staff preparing haram pork pizzas then handling halal foods without adequate cleaning or changing gloves
While Pizza Express takes food safety protocols seriously, their current kitchen setup and operations would not meet guidelines to avoid cross-contamination risks. The presence of pork and alcohol especially makes it impossible to guarantee a fully halal, contamination-free environment.
Does Pizza Express Serve Alcohol?
In order for a dining establishment to be considered fully halal, it cannot serve or allow alcohol anywhere on the premises. Even being present around others consuming alcohol can be considered haram.
Unfortunately, alcohol is a prominent offering across Pizza Express locations. Their bars proudly serve beer, wine, champagne and cocktails featuring gin, vodka, whisky and other spirits – all clear violations of Islamic law.
Some restaurants may have separate zones marked as alcohol-free for diners who prefer no alcohol around them. However, these zones are not fully walled off, so there is no guarantee others in the restaurant won’t be consuming alcohol in your vicinity. The overall environment includes alcohol service and consumption, making it not halal.
What Is Pizza Express’ Stance on Halal Certification?
Currently, Pizza Express has no official halal certification from any recognized halal authority like HMC, JAKIM or IFANCA. When questioned directly about pursuing halal certification, Pizza Express provided this reply:
“We appreciate that Halal certification is extremely important for the Muslim community. However, due to the presence of pork and alcohol across our restaurants, at this moment in time we are unable to gain certification across our entire estate.”
This confirms that the existence of pork, alcohol and lack of halal slaughter make it impossible for Pizza Express to achieve proper halal certification criteria. Their current policies mean they fall well short of what would be required.
Obtaining certification across 400+ locations does come with immense logistical hurdles for a chain of this size. But it is achievable with a true commitment to meeting halal standards – something Pizza Express has yet to demonstrate through tangible action.
The Verdict: Is Pizza Express Halal Or Haram?
Given the above analysis examining ingredients, meat sourcing, cross-contamination risks, alcohol service, and certification – Pizza Express would NOT be considered a halal-compliant restaurant based on current policies.
For observant Muslims who strictly follow Islamic dietary laws, consuming food from Pizza Express would go against their religious beliefs and should be avoided. At minimum, they would need to stick to vegetarian/seafood options and confirm preparation details with each restaurant visit.
While they advertise having “halal chicken” on their menus, this phrasing is outdated and misleading based on their 2022 supplier changes. Muslim consumers should be aware that all chicken, meat and pizzas at Pizza Express now involve non-halal ingredients and preparation methods.
Pizza Express states: “We do try to accommodate all of our customers’ dietary needs wherever possible.” However, without complete halal oversight, they cannot make guarantees about halal integrity.
For instance, while they offer some alcohol-free zones, these zones permit alcohol elsewhere in the premises, rendering them inadequate for strict halal requirements. Their efforts fall short of achieving full halal compliance.
How Can You Enjoy Pizza Express Food The Halal Way In 2023?
If you wish to enjoy Pizza Express, there are some possible options to do so while adhering to Islamic tradition:
Stick to vegetarian pizzas without meat toppings to avoid any haram ingredients. Also request no cheese or choose vegan cheese to avoid animal-derived rennet.
Opt for seafood pasta dishes and salads, ensuring no non-halal add-ins like pork bacon or alcohol in dressings.
Request any sauces, dough and other ingredients to be prepared separately from haram items.
Ask for preparation surfaces, oven racks and utensils to be thoroughly cleaned before cooking your food.
Dine during off-peak hours when kitchen traffic is lighter so there is less risk of cross-contamination from pork pizzas.
Avoid alcohol sections and politely request those around you not consume alcohol during your meal.
Double check with each restaurant about their latest policies – don’t assume menus and staff knowledge are consistent nationwide.
While imperfect, these precautions allow you to eat Pizza Express while minimizing the major halal violations. Be extra vigilant, and always prioritize your religious comfort.
The Takeaway – Halal Dining Requires Proper Understanding
Deciphering whether modern dining chains are truly halal requires nuanced understanding of ingredients and preparation methods – it’s not as simple as a “halal” sign.
Hopefully this comprehensive guide provides clarity on the halal status of Pizza Express in 2023 and equips Muslims to make educated dining choices aligned with their beliefs.
While unable to offer full halal certification at this time, Pizza Express does aim to cater to Muslim diners through some alcohol-free zones and seafood options. However, those seeking to strictly follow Islamic diet would be best avoiding their meat-topped pizzas and pastas.
Other UK pizza chains like Purezza and Pizza Punks do serve halal-certified meats and operate alcohol-free, so they provide more compliant halal options. Check your local restaurants to find the most suitable choices for your dietary needs.
Wherever you choose to dine, be empowered with knowledge to enjoy food in line with your faith!
Frequently Asked Questions – Is Pizza Express Halal
Pizza Express is a well-known restaurant chain that offers a variety of pizza and other dishes on their menu. As of 2022, some of their branches in the UK serve halal chicken, but the restaurant does not serve pork or other non-halal meat. It’s important for customers to check with their local branch to ensure if the chicken is halal as there might be variations in offerings across different locations.
What is the source of the halal chicken served at Pizza Express?
The chicken served at Pizza Express follows halal slaughter methods and is sourced from accredited suppliers. The restaurant has made changes to its ingredient supplier to provide halal slaughtered chicken, ensuring that it meets the requirements for halal consumption.
Is it true that Pizza Express no longer serves halal chicken?
As of January 2022, some Pizza Express branches in the UK still serve halal chicken. It’s important to note that this information may change, so it’s advisable for customers to check with their local restaurant regarding the availability of halal options on the menu.