Many Muslims in Australia will be surprised to know that most popular band of biscuit and margarine in Australia are not halal. Research shows that many products of Arnott’s biscuits (including Tim Tam) and Flora margarine are not halal.
Being interested from some queries I contacted Arnott Australia and Unilever Australia & New Zealand and both of them confirmed by email that their products are not halal certified.
In response to my email query, Pam McKenzie, Consumer Contact Centre, Arnott’s Australia [email protected] wrote, “Arnott’s Biscuit are not Halal certified. Arnott’s do not classify or certify any of our products we sell in Australia and New Zealand based on any religious preferences.”
Interestingly, The Australian Jewish Times reported the following: “Indeed it is milestone that as of today, kosher consumers across Australia can walk into any store and purchase these iconic biscuits.” See the link (www.jewishnews.net.au/its-timtamtastic-news/26250).
So, Arnott’s supports Kosher but refuses to support Halal.
The Tim Tam original contain cochineal which is derived from insects and is not suitable for a halal diet. The cochineal is a scale insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha, from which the natural dye carmine is derived.
The carminic acid is extracted from the body and eggs of the insect, then mixed with aluminium or calcium salts to make carmine dye, also known as cochineal. Today, carmine is primarily used as a colorant in food and in lipstick (E120 or Natural Red 4).
Mr Mohamed Elmouelhy of Halal Authority Australia confirmed that Arnott is not interested in halal certification and the company is happy to proclaim that their products are not halal certified.
Halal Food Sydney FB states, “Arnott’s does not support Halal. Small amounts of alcohol based flavours are added to some biscuits. We know that alcohol is sensitive to heat, but there is a slight possibility that trace amounts could still be present in the finished product.”
I also contacted Unilever Australia & New Zealand about popular Flora margarine which naively look like a vegetable product. Ralph, a Consumer Engagement Centre Consultant responded, “Flora Light and ProActiv Light, Flora Ultra Light and Flora ProActiv Ultra Light, Flora Olive and ProActiv Olive – All these variants contain a pork-based gelatine.”
He explained, “The gelatine is pork based. When gelatine is listed in the ingredients, the spread will not be halal.”
It is an obligation on the individual Muslims and their families to check carefully before purchasing any product for consumption. Reading ingredients and knowing what is not halal is absolutely essential to avoid non-halal or any doubtful products.
There are many halal certification authorities in Australia providing useful guide to the Muslims and everyone should take advantage of these resources.
Their contacts are Australia – 1800 888 997, NZ – 0800 900 028 or email [email protected]