By Haider Khattak, Director Islamic Food and Nutrition of Canada
Natural and artificial flavors in bakery products are the
most important ingredients for Muslim consumers. The
makeup of flavoring material must be plant-based (no
meat). Petroleum-based propylene glycol is considered a
halal solvent for flavoring.
When we say alcohol, it means either ethanol or ethyl
alcohol. It is permissible to use alcohol for extracting
the flavors or dissolving them. However, the amount of
alcohol should be reduced to less than 0.5% in the final
flavoring product. Certain countries or customers require
lower allowances or even absence of alcohol for products
brought into their coun-
tries. Some countries
do not permit fusel oil
derivatives. Note that
vinegar, although it is a
by-product or derivative
of alcohol, is permitted
in Islam. All types of
vinegar are halal. Many
Islamic scholars have
been consulted to check
this critical issue about
vanilla flavorings as it
may contain alcohol. The
word Khamr is tradition-
ally used for fermented
beverages which are
intoxicants. Alcohol used
in the manufacture of
vanilla flavor is ethanol from grain or synthetic sources
and never from alcoholic drinks or Khamr sources.
Halal dairy ingredients are derived from processes
that use either microbial enzymes or halal-certified
animal enzymes. Ingredients such as whey powder,
lactose, whey protein is late nd concentrates pro-
duced with the use of enzymes are questionable if
the source of the enzymes in unknown. Therefore, a
responsible consumer will always contact the manu-
facturer before he/she consumes the product.
Meat and poultry ingredients should be from animals
slaughtered according to the halal requirements. The
flavor manufacturers use a certain quantity of meat
or poultry products in order to produce the specific
meaty flavors. Flavor manufacturers keep records of
animal by-products used in the flavors. These flavors
can be certified halal if the flavors manufacturer is able
to provide detailed information to the halal certifier.
When a flavor company applies for halal certifica-
tion for a flavor containing
animal by-products, they
must also provide an Islamic
Slaughtering Certificate.
Smoke flavor has been used
for thousands of years to
enhance and modify the
flavor of foods as well as
to preserve meats. halal
concerns include the use
of animal fats as a base for
smoke and grill flavors or the
use of emulsifiers from ani-
mal sources. The smoke flavor
of bacon is commonly used in
the flavor industry. This type
of smoke makes the product
A single flavor may contain hundreds of ingredients.
Even one ingredient may disqualify any flavor for halal
status. Therefore, in order for us to consume 100% true
halal product, we must know what’s in the flavor.
It is not possible to mention each and every critical
ingredie t in this article, but the two main ingredi-
ents of concern to halal consumers are animal derived
ingredient(s) and alcohol. If there is animal derived
ingredient in a particular flavor, it must be from halal
certified meat. Similarly, a typical halal flavor is either
free of alcohol or if it does, it must be less than 0.5%. A
finished product must have less than 0.1% alcohol.
Find out more about halal flavors by contacting IFANCA
or similar halal certifying bodies.
“Consumers prefer to see
natural flavors on a label,
believing that they are more
healthful. Distinctions between
artificial and natural f lavors
can be arbitrary and confus-
ing, based more on how the
flavor has been made than on
what it actually contains.”
Spring 2013
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