Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
This month we take a look at dairy products. Of course, all dairy products originate with milk. Milk has been mentioned in the Quran four times, twice directly and twice indirectly. In Surat An-Nahl, ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, says:
And verily in cattle (too) will you find an instructive Sign. From what is within their bodies, between excretions and blood, WE produce, for your drink, milk, pure and agreeable to those who drink it. (16:66)
Milk has also been described as a drink of Paradise. In Surat Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, says:
(Here is) a Parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised: in it are rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink; and rivers of honey, pure and clear. In it there are for them all kinds of fruits; and Grace from their Lord. (Can those in such Bliss) be compared to such as shall dwell forever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels (to pieces). (47:15)
As produced from the cow (or other Halal animal), milk is Halal. In the old days, milk was consumed directly after production, without any additives or processing. These days, milk undergoes processing before it reaches the grocer's refrigerator. It may also be fortified with vitamins.
Many products are made from milk. Among the more familiar and common products are yogurt, cheese and butter. Of course, the dairy industry now produces milk with different fat contents from regular (full fat) milk to 2%, 1% and skim milk (no fat).
In addition, many ingredients are derived from milk, including whey, lactose, caseinates and lipases. These ingredients are used in many different products. In addition, milk can be dried and powdered, making it easier to use as an ingredient in other products.
Since an enzyme is used to produce the cheese and the whey, the acceptability of the enzyme will determine if the products containing these ingredients are Halal or not.
A Turkish study provides greater insight into the healing powers of honey. Using honey as an ointment during laproscopic colon-cancer surgery seems to prevent tumors from recurring. A Mayo Clinic cancer expert finds the study results fascinating. Of course, the Quran tells us that honey contains a cure for ills. (AP)
FSIS wants to amend the poultry product inspection regulations. The changes will be voluntary and will permit online reprocessing of pre-chill carcasses. Comments can be sent to FSIS Docket Clerk, Room 102, Cotton Annex Building, 300 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20250 and must be received before January 20, 2001. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.com December 5, 2000.)
Monsanto scientists have developed a genetically modified potato, which can resist a certain fungus. The new potato has survived outside the lab. It will take years before the potatoes are available to the public. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.com December 1, 2000.)
A new study at the University of Wisconsin suggests Vitamins E and C can prevent or slow the development of cataracts. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.com November 30, 2000.)
For those couples looking to conceive, a study by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) say a woman may be fertile at any time during her cycle, so trying to time conception is not likely to work.
An NIEHS panel is advising the government to list steroidal estrogens, wood dust (produced in furniture manufacture) and broad-spectrum ultraviolet radiation as a "known" cause of cancer. The final government report will not be issued until review and further public comments.
USDA announced standards for organic products last month. Products that are labeled organic must come from a USDA accredited state or private agency. There is an exemption from the rules for farms selling less than $5,000 a year of organic products. The standards allow 18 months to comply. To qualify for the label "Made with organic ingredients" there must be at least 70% organic ingredients. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.com December 21, 2000.)
Raw milk is a white liquid made up of globules of fat that are suspended in a liquid. Since the fat is less dense than the liquid, it floats to the top of the milk container. If the fat is collected, it would be is sold as cream. When the fat, or cream, is removed, the remaining liquid is skim milk.
It is not too appetizing to pour a glass of milk and drink a layer of fat and a layer of skim milk. To prevent the fat from separating from the liquid, the raw milk is passed through a fine nozzle. This breaks up the fat globules so they remain suspended in the liquid. Now the milk is homogenized. Homogenized milk has a more consistent texture and is more appetizing to the consumer.
Legend has it that many years ago, an Arab carried a pouch with milk in it as he traveled across the desert. The lining of the pouch and the heat of the sun caused the milk to curdle. This is said to be the first production of cheese.
Basically, cheese is made by heating milk and adding a coagulating agent. Heating serves to kill harmful bacteria. This is pasteurization. The coagulating agent, often referred to as rennet, pepsin or enzymes, curdle the milk, producing the cheese product. In addition, a culture may be added to give the cheese a specific taste and characteristic.
We can see that to make cheese, we must add ingredients. For the cheese to be Halal, these ingredients must be Halal. The coagulating agent, or enzyme, used to be derived only from the stomachs of animals, either calves or pigs. The enzyme derived from pigs is commonly referred to as pepsin, and is haram. The enzyme derived from calves is commonly referred to as rennet, and is Halal if the calf was slaughtered in accordance with Islamic requirements. Enzymes can also be produced from vegetable sources and bacteria. Over the last few decades, genetic engineering has enabled the industry to market a microbial enzyme with the properties of rennet. This enzyme is Halal and in fact, this microbial enzyme, referred to as chymosin, was one of the earliest ingredients certified by IFANCA. Other ingredients may also be added to cheese as well.
The cheese is made from the curdled part of the milk. This must be separated from the uncurdled liquid. The liquid that is left over is called whey.
Whey is the liquid left behind after cheese is made from milk. Producing a pound of cheese results in about nine pounds of whey being produced. Whey is a rich source of nutrients, including lactose, minerals and proteins.
The proteins in whey are complete proteins, containing all the amino acids needed by humans. The minerals include sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Whey is used to fortify a wide variety of food products. It can be used in the liquid form or dried and used as a powder. Filtering out various components can produce different types of whey. Reduced protein, reduced lactose and de-mineralized whey are examples.
Whey is used in many products, including salad dressings, snack foods, meat products, baked goods, beverages, infant formula and whipped toppings.
In addition to adding nutrients, the use of whey in products has other advantages. Some of these are:
The solubility of whey proteins makes them suited for beverages.
The water-binding characteristics of whey keeps meat and bakery products moist.
The thickening properties of whey make it useful in soups, gravies and salad dressings.
The emulsification properties of whey help stabilize fats in salad dressings, soups, cakes and infant formula.
As you can see, whey is a diverse ingredient that has found a use in many different types of products. For the Halal consumer, this means they must know the source of the enzyme used to produce the whey in the food item under consideration.