Halal Dairy Ingredients Now Available for Muslim Food
Haider Z. Khattak
Dairy ingredients are used as components of various food products all over the world. With the growing Muslim population in western countries, Muslim consumers are worried about the various food ingredients, including dairy ingredients used in processed foods. Most of the ingredients are new to the consumers and there is less information available to the public.
Dairy ingredients are very vital in today’s food industry. These ingredients contribute to the flavor, color, appearance, body, and texture of sauces, dressings, and puddings. In some products, such as cheese sauce or dips, dairy ingredients are the primary ingredients in the base of the product. In others, such as salad dressings, they may be used in smaller amounts for flavor or appearance. Dairy ingredients can either be used in consumer products or as a part of flavors used in food products. These ingredients could be found in the bread you eat at breakfast or a quick snack at lunch time. Most of vending machines carry non-Halal products.
Dairy ingredients are used in several snack items. The primary application of dairy-based ingredients in snack foods is for seasonings, because they enhance the flavor and appearance of the snacks. Cheese powder and dairy-based preparations of many formulations are used as seasonings.
Dairy ingredients can be used as functional ingredients in the manufacture of processed meat, poultry, and seafoods. Lactose and milk proteins are generally used. Lactose increases the ionic strength of the brine mixture and masks the bitter aftertaste associated with salt and phosphate. Lactose-containing products like whey and nonfat dry milk are functionally not as good because of their calcium content, which interferes with the binding properties of meat proteins. Milk protein contributes to the stability of the processed meat emulsion. Sodium caseinate competes favorably with meat proteins for absorption at the oil-water interface to stabilize fat in the emulsion. Other functional properties of sodium caseinate that are important in meat systems are that they do not gel with heat; the denatured form improves functionality; and they can contribute to the development of viscosity (Chandan 1997).
Their contributions consist of unique flavor, desirable texture, excellent nutritive value, and a widely accepted “natural” image. Thus, dairy ingredients provide a consumer-friendly label on packaged foods. Dairy ingredients contribute a number of characteristics critical to a food product. These include the emulsifying and stabilizing ability of caseinates, the gelling properties of whey protein concentrates (WPC) and whey protein isolates (WPI), the water-absorption capacity of high-heat nonfat dry milk, and the browning of “lactose” during heat processing. Furthermore, the crystallization characteristics of lactose and the hydrolytic activity of the enzyme lactase are important in confectionery and frozen products. In addition, butter flavor carryover can be achieved with enzyme-modified butterfat and various cheese flavors imparted by enzyme-modified cheeses. An understanding of the functional properties of dairy ingredients allows food scientists to utilize their potential contribution to product characteristics to meet consumer expectations.
There are numerous dairy ingredients used in various food products, however, few common ingredients have been selected and discussed below. Most of these ingredients below fall into the category of Mashbooh (doubtful).
Whey: The watery liquid remaining after the curd is formed in the manufacture of cheese and fermented or acidified dairy products. Whey can be used in either in compound ingredients or in finished products. It is Halal only if not modified with enzymes. The addition of enzymes into whey makes it doubtful (mashbooh) from an Islamic dietary stand point. The sources of enzymes could be animal, microbial or plant. The latter two sources are accepted by most Halal certifying organizations. Rennet is an extract from the stomach of a calf, kid, or lamb, and used in the coagulation of milk during cheesemaking (Chandan 1997). The majority of whey now produced is Halal because about 80% of whey, in the US, is from milk curdled with microbial rennet.
Whey Protein Concentrates (WPC): WPCs are products derived from whey by removal of minerals and lactose. On a dry basis, the protein concentrate contains a minimum of 25% protein. Whey protein isolate (WPI) contains at least 92% protein.
A WPC of 34% protein is commonly used as a stabilizer in yogurt, bakery mixes, dietetic foods, infant foods, and confections. Its water-binding ability, fatlike mouthfeel, and gelation property are particularly useful in these products.
A WPC of 50 or 80% protein is especially suited for use in nutritional drinks, soups, bakery products, meat, dietary foods, and economical egg-white replacement in food formulation. Again, WPC might contain enzymes, hence fall into Mashbooh classification.
Lactose: Lactose is commonly known as milk sugar. It is composed of glucose and galactose. Applications include infant formula, health foods, dietetic formulations, dry mixes, confections, drinks, candy, fermentation substrate, and dairy beverages. Lactose as a sugar is characterized by low solubility and low sweetness. It imparts a desirable brown color to bakery items and enhances flavor in beverages. It is a useful carrier of intense sweeteners and pharmaceutical preparations. So far, lactose seems Halal but that is not always true. The reason for this statement is because lactose might contain enzymes which makes it Mashbooh.
Casein and Caseinates: These ingredients furnish emulsification, whipping, and texture-modifying attributes. Sodium caseinate aids in the formation of a stable emulsion by locating itself at the interface of oil and water. Casein is the major protein in milk. It is used in the manufacture of most cheeses. It may be Halal or haram, depending upon the enzyme used to produce it (http://www.ifanca.org/glossary/).
Compounds derived by the interaction of alkali with casein (the major milk protein). Caseinates are used as additives in many complex ingredients and products. Generally, this type of ingredient is Halal, if not mixed with any non-Halal ingredients.
Dairy ingredients are being used on a large scale in the food industry. Dairy ingredient companies have become familiar with the term “Halal”, which has a tremendous importance in the western countries. More than 95% certified-Halal dairy ingredients are going to Muslim countries, such as those in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Some major companies like Danisco, Glanbia, Chr. Hansen, Foremost Farms, Grande Cheese Company, Proliant, Saputo Cheese Canada, and WestFarms Foods are under the supervision of IFANCA. These companies are experts in manufacturing dairy ingredients and are well-known suppliers on a global level.
Halal-certified companies keep IFANCA up-to-date about any new developments in the manufacturing process and cooperate with IFANCA’s policy of Halal Certification. IFANCA does Halal audits regularly to make sure that all the procedures are being followed religiously. Currently, very few consumer products made with dairy ingredients are Halal certified.
The product labels do not lead Muslim consumers to full disclosure. Therefore, it is the consumer’s responsibility to ask the manufacturers directly for further information as to the source of status of dairy ingredients.
References: Chandan, R. 1997. Dairy-Based Ingredients. Eagan Press Handbook Series, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Check the IFANCA Halal Product Directory at www.ifanca.org for Halal certified manufacturers of dairy ingredients and products.