Halal is an Arabic word which means permitted, allowed, lawful or legal. In relation to food or drink it means that the food or drink is lawful, permitted or allowed for Muslims.
For a Food product to be Halal, it must be free from any product or by-product derived from all of the following.

  • Pig or Dog
  • Blood
  • Part or by-product of human body e.g.  human hair in L-Cysteine
  • Carnivorous animals
  • Birds with talons or birds that feed by snatching and tearing e.g. eagles and other similar birds
  • Reptiles and insects
  • Animals which are generally considered as repulsive such as lice, maggots, mice, rats, spiders and other similar animals.
  • Any marine animals except fish
  • Animals that live on land and in water (amphibians) like frogs, crocodiles and other similar animals.
  • Animals which have died, by any means other than slaughtering according to the Islamic Law.
  • Animals permitted under the Islamic Law (i.e. Cow, Sheep, Lamb, Goat, Poultry etc.)  which are not slaughtered according to the Islamic Law.
  • Wine, Ethyl Alcohol or Spirits
  • Intoxicating and hazardous plants
  • Food Products contaminated with any of the above

There are 2 types of vegetarian products available on the market
1.    Approved by the Vegetarian Society
2.    Suitable for vegetarians

1. Approved by the Vegetarian Society
The Vegetarian Society checks and approves products that meet its conditions and these products display the vegetarian society logo and also state that the product is approved by the Society. These products are free from meat products but may contain alcohol, as it is permissible for vegetarians. There is a possibility that alcohol may be part of flavouring, flavour enhancer, processing aid etc. And this alcohol may not be declared on the ingredients list.

2. Suitable for vegetarian
Manufacturers themselves decide that their products are suitable for vegetarians. But these have not been approved by the Vegetarian Society. During our investigations some such products have found to contain animal products in their sub-ingredients. In addition these products may contain alcohol in the flavourings, flavour enhancers, processing aids etc. which may not be listed in the ingredients list.

Therefore it is not necessary that vegetarian products are always Halal.

Halal consumers must insist that manufacturers have their products Halal certified as this is the only means to guarantee products are totally Halal.

L-Cysteine a naturally occurring amino acid that is classified as a protein amino acid. It is found in most high protein food. L-Cysteine is mainly used in bakery, pharmaceutical and personal care products.

L-Cysteine is obtained industrially by hydrolysis of human hair, feathers or synthetically.  There two major manufacturers of L-Cysteine are:

  1. Wacker Chemie of Germany - L-Cysteiene made by bacterial fermentation in which no alcohol is produced.
  2. Ajinomonto Company - L-Cysteine made by synthetic method.

The L-Cysteine made sythetically or bacterial fermentation in which no alcohol is produced will be Halal.

Cheese is made by coagulating or clotting milk. This is achieved by first acidifying the milk with a bacterial culture and then adding rennet, an enzyme, to coagulate the milk, separating it into curds, the solid and liquid (whey) products.  There are hundreds of types of cheeses related to different flavours, different types of milks, different types of processes involved, different consistency etc soft, hard.

 If cheese is made from rennet of pig or animal which has not been slaughtered in the Islamic way or from genetically modified rennet from a similar animal then it will not be Halal.

Whey powder is made from drying Whey or liquid plasma. This is the liquid that remains behind in the cheese making process after milk has been curdled by the addition of rennet and strained. Whey made using rennet derived from pig or calf which has not been slaughtered islamically will not be Halal. Whey made using rennet derived from fungi, plants, micro organisms will be Halal.

One must check with the manufacturer of the whey powder to find out the source of rennet.

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