Cereal-based products include a large number of staple food products such as bread, breakfast cereals, cakes, candies, doughnuts, cookies, pastries, and chewing gum. The processing and composition of these products vary a great deal. Major ingredients used in this group of products are flour, sugar, and shortening. There are possibly hundreds of other ingredients used in cereal products, depending on the nature of each product. Some of the commonly used ingredients in cereal and confectionary industries whose Halal status is questionable include the following.
Gelatin — may be used as a glaze component on doughnuts and strudels as well as some types of cake and pastry. As discussed earlier two types of gelatin are suitable for Halal: (1) Beef gelatin from Halal-slaughtered animals, and (2) Fish gelatin.
Mono- and Diglycerides — emulsifiers quite widely used in the bakery and confectionary industries, and, to a lesser extent, in candy products. Although mono- and diglycerides can be made from any fat and oil, the only acceptable sources for Halal food are vegetable mono- and diglycerides.
Other Emulsifiers — polysorbates of different molecular sizes, such as Tween 80, Tween 60, and Tween 40; sodium stearyl lactylate; and other specific-use emulsifiers are also questionable due to their sources. It is better to avoid emulsifiers from animal sources.
Cream Liquor — generally contains varying amounts of alcohol and must be avoided in Halal production.
Pan grease and release agents — might contain ingredients such as wine, beef tallow, lard, gelatin, sugars, zein protein, or any other ingredient to create a coating of the food product. Although vegetables and mineral ingredients used for this purpose are Halal, the coating formulators must avoid doubtful ingredients such as beef tallow and gelatin, or Haram ingredients such as lard. Sugars, zein, starches, bees wax, petroleum fractions, and vegetable oils are some of the Halal-suitable ingredients for food coatings.
L-Cysteine — amino acid that might be used in doughnuts, pizza crusts, taco shells, and tortillas. L-Cysteine might be used to modify the texture of the batters and breading. Halal L-cysteine must be either the vegetarian type made through synthesis or from bird feathers from birds slaughtered according to halal requirements. L-Cysteine from human hair is also available but generally not accepted as Halal, because it is considered offensive to one’s psyche, hence Makrooh.
Some of the key points in different product types such as breakfast cereals, bread, cookies and pastry, doughnuts and other fried goods, chewing gum, and marshmallows are discussed below:
Most of the breakfast cereals are rather simple formulations containing pure grain-based ingredients mixed in with sugar, salt, and a few other minor ingredients such as colors and flavors. The most widely used minor ingredients that are questionable include mono- and diglycerides and flavors. If there were no components in these animal-based ingredients, all cereals would be Halal. However, some of the breakfast cereals may contain gelatin-based marshmallows which may not be Halal.
There is a large variety of breads, from flat, unrolled, made without yeast to flat, leavened, made with yeast, such as pita bread to French- and Italian-type rolls. Breads are also highly leavened and yeast raised, such as sliced breads. The earlier examples have simpler formulations. The latter ones such as white bread might contain many ingredients. Also, all breads are primarily made of flour and water, which might contain several minor ingredients. Some of the questionable ingredients in bread-making are mono- and diglycerides, sodium stearyl lactylates, and flavorings. Another major concern in bread-making is pan grease and release agents used in the utensils.
Many breads are made with yeast, which not only generates carbon dioxide but also produces alcohol. Although alcohol is one of the Haram ingredients, the purpose in making the bread is not similar to brewing alcoholic drinks. Hence, there may or may not be concern with the presence of any residual alcohol in bread.
Cakes, Cookies, and Pastries:
The major components of these food products are flour, sugar, and oil. However, many of the minor ingredients might be used to give these products a specific character, which differentiates one type of product from the other. The minor ingredients to avoid in these products are mono- and diglycerides, gelatin, polysorbate, sodium stearyl lactylate, L-cysteine, flavors containing alcohol, and other non-Halal ingredients.
Doughnuts and Other Fried Goods:
The first and foremost requirement is that the frying oil should be vegetable oil or from Halal source. The minor ingredients to avoid in doughnuts are very similar to those present in cakes and cookies. Gelatin might be used on glazed doughnuts, which can be easily replaced by an appropriate plant gum.
Gum-base and chewing gum might be composed of any of the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the USFDA ingredients. Two of the commonly used ingredients which are doubtful as regards Halal include stearates and gelatin. There might be many other doubtful ingredients in gum base that need to be screened properly for the production of Halal chewing gum. Only Halal gelatin and Halal stearates are acceptable for Halal products.
Marshmallows are primarily sugar, gelatin, and flavors. A special kind of gelatin, usually pork, is required to make the best fluffy, nonsticky marshmallows. One can make Halal marshmallows with Halal-certified bovine or fish gelatin. Flavors used in marshmallows must also be Halal suitable. During production, marshmallows in most plants are rolled in corn starch so that they do not stick to each other. It is very important that the equipment be thoroughly cleaned and old starch replaced with fresh starch before producing Halal marshmallows. The equipment at the time of start-up must be physically inspected to remove any stray marshmallows from the previous batch.
HCPs IN BREADMAKING:
Although the process of bread-making is quite simple, there are a few points to consider in the production of bread:
HCP – 1 — ingredients used in the manufacture of bread. All major and minor ingredients must be halal suitable.
HCP – 2 — release agents and pan grease if used should also be halal suitable.
HCP – 3 — packaging materials used for packing halal bread must not contain any ingredients of animal origin such as animal stearate.