Many people would assume that since butter is produced from milk, it can only be Halal.
Now, in the olden age, this was indeed the only way how butter could be made – just pure cow’s milk and a lot of shaking, stirring and agitation – completely halal!
But in this day and age, butter is no longer made of just milk. Commercially-made butter are sometimes packed with something extra for the consumers.
There are 4 main Halal risk factors regarding Butter;
- Gelatine Sieve
- Alcohol Usage
- Whey Butter instead of Milk Butter
- Usage of Lard
Gelatine Sieve :
When cream is first made from milk, the cream needs to be strained from the milk. To do this, a very high-quality strainer with fine pores are needed to separate the two liquids of different densities. The better the sieve used, the better the quality of the skimmed (low/non-fat) milk produced.
The quality of the butter depends on the quality of the cream, which in turn depends on how well these two liquids of different densities are separated. The high-quality strainer in this case, could be the gelatine sieve, made of pig gelatine because it has really fine pores.
Once the butter is formed, the remaining liquid in the mixture would need to be drained. Once drained, the butter needs to be washed with water, and strained again to ensure that the butter has a longer shelf life, again possibly with the use of the gelatine sieve. Quite possibly, preservatives would also be added at this stage to ensure that the butter has longer shelf life.
For this reason, if the company is going for halal certification, a halal inspector would inform the company to change the process, or change the sieve to exclude pork-derived materials from coming into contact with the butter.
Salted butter is made with cream mechanically separated from cow’s milk and salt. So all salted butter from any brand is Halal.
Ingredients of Unsalted Butter:
The ingredients of unsalted butter is pasteurized sweet cream and natural flavoring or pasteurized sweet cream and lactic acid. Unsalted butter is Halal only if it is made with pasteurized sweet cream and lactic acid. But some times dairy companies add lactic acid and termed it as natural flavoring. It is better to call companies to confirm it. The natural flavoring is also made from Starter Distillate. Starter Distillate in many unsalted butter brands contains Diacetyl. Besides diacetyl, starter distillate also contains minor amounts of acetaldehyde, ethyl formate, ethyl acetate, acetone, ethyl alcohol, 2-butanone, acetic acid and acetone. Since this minor amount of ethyl alcohol Starter Distillate is considered not Halal.
If the dairy companies guarantee that their Starter Distillate do not contain minor amount of alcohol, then it can be used.
butter is made from the cream that is derived from milk. This process sometimes involves the usage (and mixture) of cream from whey, which is a by-product of cheese-making. Cheese has a higher halal risk factor because of animal-derived enzymes used in the production of cheese.
In the halal certification, whey is considered a high risk ingredient because the protein could possibly be derived from animals. In the event that the whey used in butter is not halal, then this makes the butter itself not halal.
In low fat butter, fat is added to give it texture and taste. Often pig gelatine is used hence Halal certification ensures that this is not the case.
Department of Halal Certification highly recommends that Muslim consumers only buy Halal certified butter !