Opinion: Packaging as a source of halal food contamination

GLOBAL – Packaging is an increasing source of Halal food contamination, says a test laboratory.

According to Genetic ID Europe, this is due to the leaching of animal fat-based lubricants used in the production of some paper-based materials into packaged products.

The German laboratory test company said it found positive pork traces in a number of Halal samples from countries such as Germany, France, and the UK, and traced the source of contamination to stearates or lubricants used in paper packaging machinery.

Some stearates contain animal derivatives, including pork which is prohibited under Halal law – Islamic dietary guidelines.

Bill Thompson, Genetic ID’s CEO said, “The issue of cross contamination from packaging can be an issue because the stearate can effectively ‘leak’ into the food.

“It is not a huge problem, but people need to be aware and take precautions.”

Thompson said Halal food manufacturers exercise more caution: “Some certification standards insist on packaging testing for porcine while others do not, so I would urge Halal food manufacturers to be vigilant about the issue and insist on rigorous testing and certification while also covers packaging.”

He noted that many companies may be processing both non-Halal and Halal products in the same facilities: “This creates the potential to leave residues of forbidden products if the producers do not have correct cleaning procedures in place.”

Thompson also highlighted packaging made from recycled paper, which may contain pork residues from a previous use, and can also leach into Halal products.

“As a quality control precaution, it would be a good idea to test to see if Halal products are in compliance with standards,” Thompson suggested.