Friday, June 29, 2012


Alcoholic drinks are taboos for many people on grounds of religious and other considerations and therefore foods containing alcohol also receive critical attention from safety authorities. But under the testing protocols traces of alcohol are invariably ignored because many natural foods are known to contain small levels of alcohol formed as a part of the metabolic reactions in the fresh produce materials. Alcohol is also a part of many flavoring substances and when externally flavored products are made, alcohol gets into the products also. Whether it is semantics or genuine apprehension, presence of alcohol in foods and beverages evoke strong reactions and recently there was a furor about its presence, albeit at extremely small levels in many soft drinks marketed by almost all major players in this sector. How this report is going to affect the soft drinks market is still not clear. Here is a gist of the above report.   

"According to tests carried out by the Paris-based National Institute of Consumption, more than half of leading colas contain traces of alcohol, Daily Mail reported Wednesday. These include the brand leaders Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola, while it is mainly only cheap supermarket versions of the drink which are alcohol-free. "60 Million Consumers", the French magazine, published the results of the tests in its latest issue. The tests suggest that the alcohol levels are as low as 10 mg in every litre, and this works out at around 0.001 per cent alcohol. But the figures will still be enough to upset the thousands of Muslims who regularly drink Cola because their religion forbids them from drinking alcohol, the daily said". 

If the target of the report is consumers belonging to Islam religion, there is going to be some debate regarding the question whether such beverages containing minuscule amount of alcohol, are Halal or Haram. According to some religious pundits alcohol in manufactured products, added during the processing, make the final products Haram where as products containing alcohol naturally formed as an artifact of metabolism or natural fermentation can pass the Halal test. How far the food and beverage industry can avoid alcohol is some what difficult to predict as of now but the fact still remains that alcohol is one of the most affordable and safest solvents available to the industry and the alternative options of organic solvents may not be as safe as alcohol. It is time that those involved in Halal certification consider these facts before coming to any conclusion regarding the advisability of declaring beverages like Colas as Haram.


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