As you know, living in oversea made us become more aware about what we eat. Mostly because we are muslim living in non-muslim environment. But that too makes me wonder, how about Malaysia? Can we verify that all restaurants are really Halal? Or we just BANTAI just to say that, hey this is Islam country. So we can eat everything that we want. If you are thinking that way, I guess you have to rethink again about it.
One of the reason I’m writing this is because like you all out there, living in Malaysia means living in the food paradise. However, if you look closer for each food on the shelves in the shop, you might have to really verify that there is HALAL logo from Jakim. Then if there are none, don’t be scared. This food might be from other countries like Thailand, Indonesia and all over the world. Look for something that is not halal in the ingredients; meat, pork etc. Pass the food next time when you confirmed that it is not Halal. Similarly, get to restaurants that have Halal logo and do buy chicken from places that have Halal logo from Jakim. Although there might be fraud somewhere in the middle, we have made our choice to seek the truth and halal food. So, hopefully Jakim do their very best to protect all Muslim consumer in Malaysia.
After living in Holland for quite sometime, I learn to pass some food and learn to eat the permissible one. The first rule is to learn the E-Numbers. I didn’t knew E-numbers by heart, but I knew E-numbers beyond 470 are mostly can be either from both animal and non-animal source. Especially E471 and E482, both are used in bakery stuff like bread and cake mix. Sometimes, they do not write it as E471 but as mono and diglycerides. Beware with that too especially with ice creams. So, not all bread and ice cream are Halal, however don’t be scared. Depending on the source, it can be halal. Like bread made at Turkish, arabic or Moroccan bakery. However, what if they are not Muslim producer or not in these Muslim shop. Then look for soyalecithin eg (E471, soyalecithin)/ (E471, sojalecithin). The producer did confirmed that the source of E471 is from non-animal source. For more information of E-numbers (additives, you can log either google it or go to this website http://www.food-info.net/uk/qa/qa-fi47.htm.) They have long list of E-numbers and some discussion and more information about it.
The other thing that I look in the ingredients are gelatin and whey powder. Gelatin was previously listed as E485 but now they changed it to E441. Gelatin is mostly used in chewy candies, marshmellows and some deserts. Another important ingredient that is widely used in The Netherlands is whey powder. Most of the sweet chocolates have this, including Nutella. I’m so dissapointed to see whey in Nutella. But when we went to Spain, there is no whey powder in it. Atleast, we have a chance to taste Nutella.. ;). Remember, both ingredients too can be halal if we can confirmed that the source is Halal.
Then, the cheese. Apparently you can’t eat all the cheese available here unless you can confirmed it is Halal. The reason for any cheese to be Halal or not is because of the rennet used. I will look for either biologic cheese or the ingredients without rennet. So, if it is written clearly microbial enzymes, then it is Halal. There are a few Mozarella chesse in Holland that use microbial enzymes, so thank god. When I went back to Malaysia, I saw that most of the cheese used microbial enzymes. So, it’s nice that they really have all the Halal cheese sold.
Finally, looking for Halal restaurant when you are on holiday in Europe can be a terrible experience. My rule of thumb is to bring a rice cooker and some food, just enough to eat for 3 days. It can be easier to find Halal restaurant/food in some country (Germany) than other country (Austria). So when its hard to find one, just remember; as long as it is not pork, chicken or meat, eat it. That is our rule. Because, I can remember it is really easy to get Halal food in Koln, but not in Berlin city. At that time, we made our choice to have tuna sandwich or the vegetarian sandwich at SUBWAY.
So, I’ve listed all the things I look in the ingredients when I shop overseas. It’s not much, but I guess it can be a useful guideline for those who wish to come and have holiday abroad.