Dubai: Experts have warned people to check product details and look for alternatives as the list of halal products available to the consumer grows.
In Islam, products considered halal should not have residues of pork or animals not slaughtered in an Islamic way or have traces of alcohol, while those that contain these elements are considered haram or unacceptable.
Toothpaste, cosmetic products and medicines can all now come in halal varieties, meaning there are options for vigilant consumers.
Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim, Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade in Malaysia, Cooperatives and Consumerism, who opened the 5th Halal Expo in Dubai on Monday, told Gulf News: “What most people don’t realise is that most cosmetics and personal hygiene products, such as soap, toothpaste, body lotions and skincare creams contain derivatives of pork fat or alcohol, which is not acceptable in Islam. Although a growing number of people are conscious of this fact, a majority are still unaware.
“We are also coordinating with the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and other Islamic countries to have unified international halal standards for all products.”
And she told how even fruit and vegetables are being halal certified now “as we allow only Shariah compliant fertilisers to be used in our fields and I believe this should be followed by others as most fertilisers used around the world have suspect elements.”
Malaysia is one of the world’s biggest producers of halal products and has a unified halal code.
Taking the cue, the UAE is formulating its own set of halal standards and the Emirates Standardisation and Metrology Authority (ESMA) has been mandated by the OIC to formulate a unified halal code for perfumes and cosmetics as well as for food products.
Around 80 firms and government organisations participated in the three-day Halal Expo, which showcased various products.
Fahmeeda Salman, a housewife who visited the expo for the first time, said: “This is indeed an eye opener, I never realised that so many things that we use in our daily lives could have animal residues.
“A visit to the expo has really helped me understand which products should be avoided and the alternatives available.”
Almost all products have alternatives, from halal toothpaste and toffees to health products and fertilisers.
Common ingredients in toothpastes, peppermints or skincare products are glycerin or gelatin, either of which is derived from animal fat or bones, mostly of pork.
“It’s important to pay particular attention whenever glycerin is listed as part of ingredients in a toothpaste, as it may be derived from pork fat,” said Siddiq Mohtisham, Director of International Trade at Dubai-based firm Jan Bros, which promotes a range of halal certified cosmetic products. “Since its often difficult to determine the source of glycerin it is best to look for products certified as halal.”