Imagine this: You happen to find yourself dining in a non-halal restaurant with your non-muslim friends, and out of politeness you don’t want ask them to go somewhere else, so you sit and stare at the menu and figure out which item is the one that you would feel the least guilty of consuming – one that you would consider… safe. You strike out all the meat items, you strike out anything that could remotely contain rum, or alcohol in its cooking methods, and then you would probably end up with something along the lines of bread, salad, and very likely, french fries.
After all, french fries is just… potatoes, right?
I chose french fries for this week’s topic because I happened to stumble upon this video on my newsfeed. Watch the video on how fries are made, and read on & may we all grow in a appreciation and admiration for all the people that work behind every halal certification. (I’m cringing just by recalling the amount of paperwork involved per product..)
French fries isn’t just potatoes. The next time you are chowing down on those delicious fries, don’t just gobble it down. Take time, let it linger in your mouth, and savour its every taste. The moment you feel that it taste even remotely like beef (the most common animal fat used) – there was probably beef fat, essence of beef, beef marinade or even beef stock – in the oil that your delicious fries are fried in. And since we are on the subject – yes, pork and lard can be used to flavour oil as well.
For added measure, I want to touch a bit on our choice of cooking oil. If its not halal-certified, it is likely that the animal essences have already been added into the oil and bottled up and placed on the supermarket shelves for you to purchase. As seen in the video, there is pre-frying done as well, before the french fries are being frozen. Commercially, after pre-frying (the non-halal bit has already been infused), the fries are then frozen, packed and brought to the super market shelves! Voila!
No Pork, No Lard
I also want to touch a bit on the “No Pork No Lard” signals that we see quite a bit. These are claims that restaurants / eateries use to indicate that Pork and Lard are not used in their food production. However, it is still not too clear if this ultimately translates the food being halal – sometimes it does, but sometimes, it doesn’t.
Despite not using pork, or lard as raw ingredients, there may be other meat flavoured ‘oil’ that has bee infused in the oil used in the establishment. These flavourings are added into the oil to give the fries that distinct taste and unique flavour to the fries. If animal essences are used, then these animal essences must be from halal sources. You may have a halal abattoir producing these items, or from another producer of animal flavourings that has attained halal certification. If not, then it deems the fries to be non-halal.
So now you know. Ending this article I want to emphasize again about how my articles not meant to judge you for your food choices – it is merely to inform. It’s not about “choose this, not that”. It is not even about telling you if something is Halal or Haram. My mantra is this: if your choice of food would be different if you had known ‘this thing‘, then you should know ‘this thing‘, I will share ‘this thing‘ with you.
Till next time, Halal First, Everything else later.