A new testing kit will go a long way to ease fears among Malaysian Muslims that the food they are eating is halal, especially in light of a recent pork-related controversy involving Cadbury.
Last month, the chocolate company was rocked by allegations that some of its products contained traces of pork DNA. It was later found that the results, which had been leaked by a government ministry, were erroneous.
Although Cadbury’s reputation is in the clear, many Muslims are now not sure about who and what they should believe.
Currently under development by researchers at the University of Selangor, a new halal kit that is accurate to within 0.0001% will allow consumers to test their food as they prepare to eat, and know for certain that their food is completely pork-free.
Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, a Malaysian chief minister, said the kit, which is expected to be released next year, will give Muslims greater peace of mind over the products they consume.
“We don’t want food brands labelled as halal to lose the public’s faith because of the possibility of non-halal traces in the food, so to gain consumers faith, we need to take precautionary steps,” Abdul Khalid said.
The benefits are obvious. If you’re eating out and are unsure whether your meal is pork-free or not, the halal kit will help you decide with certainty. Consumers can also check for pork DNA in processed foods, cosmetics and supplements within one minute.
Until development of the new kit—said to incorporate a small electronic device—is complete, other simple test kits are available locally. Working much like litmus tests, these are less accurate and can take up to 15 minutes to register their results, making them impractical for restaurant diners.
As good as lab tests
Head of development Prof Dr Anuar Ahmad said the new kit will use nano-sensor technology that can detect pig content in minute quantities.
“It can save costs compared to laboratory tests. There shouldn’t be hesitation to use it because the results are guaranteed to be accurate, as good as laboratory tests which cost thousands of ringgit,” Anuar said.
Jakim, the government’s Islamic watchdog, has already given its approval ahead of release.
Hakimah Mohamad Yusuf, a Jakim director said that the new kit will be suitable as a preliminary test as the agency still relies on lab results.
“However the accuracy and capabilities of the kit needs to be determined before being implemented by Jakim,” Hakimah said.