Industry Columnist

Nor Amin | Chairman, Global Haltech

 

 

Halal analysis: DNA is not the only solution
There are lots of ingredients or finished products in the market which does not contain DNA

A HALAL analysis is done to ensure it does not contain any haram source in the ingredients or finished products. Haram source here means any source coming from pork and its derivatives. This is the basic rule for any product to be certified as Halal. Apart from Halal certification, which involves a review of related documents and audits done at the manufacturing area, Halal analysis is sometimes needed for ingredients that are sent for Halal certification and submitted without a Halal certificate. DNA tests are allowed because they are the most established method to trace animal-origin-based ingredients in the sample products. But bear in mind there are lots of ingredients or finished products in the market that do not contain DNA. This situation is not because there is no animal-based DNA but because the DNA may have degraded or deteriorated during production. This means that the ingredients and finished products may be animal-based, but because of complicated methods applied during manufacturing, the DNA in those items is damaged. When this happens, the lab report may not detect anything, and there would be no conclusion as to whether either the ingredients or finished product contain animal-based origins or porcine tracing. Heat applied at a higher temperature uses certain chemicals, and extreme pressure during manufacturing can also damage DNA during manufacturing processes. If labs still proceed with DNA analysis for the sample that no longer has DNA in the item, the negative result is actually a false negative. Thus, can we still say DNA is the only solution for Halal analysis? The honest answer is even though the DNA method is the most established method and the only one allowed by authorities, we still need to think of alternative ways to trace porcine in the item in which the DNA no longer exists.

In analysis practice, tracing any animal-origin-based or porcine-based sources for Halal testing can still proceed using various types of methods. In almost all cases, other animal-based markers are still in good condition to be selected as a porcine marker at the time the DNA is damaged. Few labs have developed different methods for Halal analysis, such as tracing of polypeptides, triglycerides, antibody/antigen pairs, porcine uniqueness protein and so on. According to Fig 1, parameter testing for the Halal test can be divided into two authentication levels: screening and confirmation.

Universities and research institutes usually use the screening level under the R&D phase to get the best markers or the best methods for Halal analysis. The technique used at the confirmation level is reliable. Scientific equipment used and processes applied under confirmation level are RT-PCR for DNA tests, LCMS/MS for polypeptide tests and ELISA/Rapid Test Kit for antibody/antigen tests. Thus, when we are facing a problem with samples received in the lab with no more DNA contained, the alternative methods mentioned above are useful. All those methods have been verified and undergo a validation process before being processed as valid methods for Halal analysis. Some of those methods have even been accredited ISO17025. Halvec lab, for example, has been accredited ISO17025 for Halal analysis, and the parameters that have been listed under the scope of analysis are the DNA test and ELISA/ Rapid Test Kit. The decision that either DNA or another alternative method is the best for finished products received in the lab is based on the list of ingredients contained in the finished product. This would be identified by lab staff. In some instances, some of the finished products may require more than one test method as products may contain animal-based sources from different body parts of an animal. The table in Fig 2 shows the details.

The details in the above table are not theories but happened for finished products received by labs for Halal analysis. For some products received by Halvec Lab for Halal study, the DNA method can’t be used to determine whether the products contain porcine-based sources or not. However, when using the ELISA method, the result is evident to prove that the finished product contains porcine-based sources. The Halal or haram status of finished products can be clearly decided by choosing the appropriate manner. Hence, it will give authorities higher confidence in the Halal certification process.

In the list of comparing testing methods used in Fig 3, products such as vaccines and Banana jelly gummy porcine are not detected when using the DNA test method. In contrast, the result is detected when using ELISA and polypeptide methods. As for glycerin products, porcine-based ingredients can only be identified using the ELISA test but can’t be detected using DNA and polypeptide methods. In other merchandise such as lip balm, aging soap and pork fat, both DNA and ELISA methods can be used to trace porcine-based ingredients in the finished products. So, it is obvious here to say that the method picked is essential to ensure Halal and haram status. The method of analysis chosen depends on the ingredients in the finished products. This is also supposed to be aware by authorities that the method for Halal analysis is not just using DNA tests but has to extend to other alternative methods as long as the method has been verified, validated, and ISO17025 accredited.

Halal Science is always there to assist with Halal certification. Halal science can help to gain trust. The trust comes from stringent verification as the integrity can be based on trust but verified. That’s the importance of Halal science. That’s the value of the Halal logo, and that’s the beauty of Islam. Halal is brought by Muslims but for Muslims and non-Muslims.

Background: Global Haltech services are further strengthening with Halvec Laboratory, is an ISO 17025 accredited laboratory located in Kuala Lumpur and recognized by the Malaysian Halal Authority, JAKIM. They have established food or material sampling collection points in the Europe and USA.

 

 

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