ABSTRACT

Limited information exists regarding adulteration of Halal-certified food by substances forbidden under Islamic law (Haram substances). This study was conducted using forensic laboratory testing to investigate the prevalence of this type of adulteration. In this large-scale survey of Halal-certified food products randomly collected from markets in Thailand, 4,829 food samples from 10 food groups were tested in the laboratory for four potentially Haram substances: porcine DNA, porcine fatty acids, ethanol, and hydroxyproline (gelatin). No samples were adulterated with porcine DNA or fatty acids. However, 62 samples (approximately 1.3%) were positive for ethanol (>0.5% for non–naturally fermented products and >1% for naturally fermented products). The hydroxyproline concentration in the samples was compared with that of a negative control. Gelatin, as indicated by the presence of hydroxyproline, was the major suspicious substance found in these products. Further investigations are required to determine whether the gelatin is of Halal origin. These results from this first large-scale postmarket surveillance of Halal-certified food products for forbidden substances reveals the important role of forensic laboratory testing for supporting Halal supervision and certification. These findings provide useful information for government agencies seeking to encourage Halal compliance by food enterprises and for Muslim consumers and Halal food importers and exporters.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • A total of 4,829 Halal food samples were tested for four substances forbidden by Islamic law.

  • Of the total analyzed samples, 1.3% were questionable and needed further investigation.

  • Gelatin was the major suspicious substance with concerns for its Halal origin.

  • Laboratory testing may play an important role in preserving the Halal integrity of foods.

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