November 18, 2019
DOST

DOST Labs Find Pork in Halal Products

Highlights:

Halal Laboratories of Department of Science and Technology (DOST) on their own tested samples of several food products, among them, processed beef (canned and patties), chicken hotdogs, and seasoning.

Analyst of the laboratories found pork in some of the tested products.

Information about this already reached the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), hoping for appropriate measures.

An NCMF commissioner urged the DTI to communicate with the DOST halal laboratories’ executives to get the results of the tests and the names of the products’ brands and their manufacturers as well as the halal certifying bodies (HCBs) involved.

And if warranted, for DTI to pull the products out of the market as well as do what the law says about false advertising, and include taking to tasks involved HCBs for possible negligence.

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By EDD K. USMAN, SDN, Twitter @edd1819, Instagram @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN –Science and Digital News

THIS IS bad news.

Muslims in the Philippines, probably, have been eating pork contained in some food products without their knowledge.

At least those who are fond of consuming processed meat, like canned beef, beef patties, and chicken hotdog.

The Department of Science and  Technology (DOST) owns four high-tech halal laboratories: in Laguna, DOST Region IV-A, CALABARZON;, in Davao City, DOST Region XI; in Cotabato City, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); and in Koronadal City, DOST XII, SOCCSKSARGEN.

On their own, or in-house, the laboratories bought some commercially available halal-certified meat products as samples and put them under laboratory tests.

Sources from the DOST halal laboratories told SDN — Science and Digital News about their findings: some of those tested products are “positive” for pork content.

It was learned some of the products found to contain pork were manufactured by big and established companies. A few others by micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the sources said.

Not only halal canned beef, but also some brands of beef patties and chicken hotdogs were found to have pork content. The DOST laboratories examined and analyzed only those products stamped with “Halal” logo.

Information shared by the laboratories’ staff showed that some Filipino-operated halal certifying bodies (HCBs) are responsible for the halal certification of the products. (They asked to not mention the names of the companies, their product brands, and the names of the  HCBs.)

“We have a confidentiality agreement,” the staff said.

DOST IV-A halal lab
HALAL LAB. A high-tech equipment in one of the halal laboratories of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

In relation with this, the information about the pork-laden products already reached the ears of the Department of Trade and  Industry (DTI) and the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).

The NCMF (vice chair) and the DOST are two of the nine member agencies of the Philippine Halal Export Development and Promotion Board (PHEDPB, or Halal Board in short) chaired by the DTI. Republic Act No. 10817 created the PHEDPB).

Other members are the Department of Agriculture (DA); Department of Health (DOH); Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA); Department of Tourism (DOT); Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP); and Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

Another staff of one of the halal laboratories said some of the meat products in question were not just contaminated with pork, but “adulterated” (one fourth of its content is pork).

“Obviously, some food manufacturer are skimping on their budget because pork is cheaper than beef,” he ventured.

On the other hand, still another staff of DOST Halal Verification Laboratory (HVL) explained to SDN — Science and Digital News how porcine content may get into otherwise halal-certified (processed) meat products.

“Meat products can be tested positive for porcine not because of adulteration but may be due to contamination. Contamination can be due to the materials or contact surfaces which may be used previously in preparation of pork-based products in some industries producing a wide range of meat product, including pork,” the staff said. (Staff of DOST HVLs want to remain unidentified to protect confidentiality of their work.)

There are other sources of contamination, she added. Some of these sources can be the ingredients used.

“Food manufacturers should ensure that the ingredients or raw materials they are using are also halal-certified. However, there are instances that the sources of these ingredients are unknown,” she lamented.

Thus, she suggested to food manufacturers to strictly adhere to halal production process if they want their products halal-certified.

Moreover, the DOST HVL staff was inclined to believe that porcine contamination in some meat products certified halal may have minimal concentration and they were not done intentionally by producers of processed food for Muslims.

In this manner, she added, the “contamination can be translated as a contamination and not intentional.”

In a text message on, still another halal verification laboratory analyst of a DOST HVL relayed their own analysis of halal-certified processed meat product.

“Yes, we have also conducted a test with a halal-certified processed meat product and found that it was positive with pork. This could indicate that there might be a problem during the processing and production.

“In this matter, we plan to verify more halal-certified products for or own reference,” the DOST HVL analyst said.

As this developed, NCMF Commissioner Abdulhadi Daguit urged the DTI to look into the DOST laboratories’ findings on the food products alleged to contained pork to protect the interest of Muslims.

DOST DNA halal test

Here’s one of the results of laboratory analysis conducted by DOST halal laboratories. Another DOST laboratory analyzed some canned beef products found positive for pork. 

He suggested that the best thing to do if warranted is to pull the questioned products out of the market and let the law takes its course if the unnamed companies were engaged in deception.

“This is a big issue among Muslims because they are forbidden to eat or consume, not even handle, pork,” said Daguit. “Not only for Muslims, but a question of adhering to the law.”

He added that whether minimal or just a morsel, of pork, or a sip of alcoholic drinks, they are haram or forbidden to Muslims just the same.

The NCMF official recalled that a food manufacturer whose food product he audited for possible halal certification offered him Php20,000 monthly if he keeps his mouth shut about their products containing pork.

“I nearly slapped the company official,” Daguit said. Now, the food products of the offending company which he mentioned were already certified halal by an Islamic group engaged in certification.

Daguit wondered how the company’s products passed laboratory tests.

Meanwhile, the DTI Office of the Undersecretary for Trade Promotions and Special Concerns Group responded to the issue, promising to find out the truth about the allegedly pork-adulterated products and possibly get them out of the market.

The DTI office also committed to communicate with the DOST regional offices that conducted the in-house analyses and tests as well as learn about the responsibilities of the Islamic groups that certified halal the questioned products. (SDN)

Featured image of Halal Philippines logo of the Department Trade and Industry (DTI).

Updated, 11:40 a.m., September 4, 10 p.m., September 3, 2019, to reflect statements from a DOST HVL staff on probable reason for pork contamination of halal-certified products.

Updated, September 13, 2019, 3:41 p.m., to include the findings of a DOST HVL on their own testing of a halal-certified processed meat product found positive with pork. 

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