Muslims eating Pig fat, courtesy PepsiCo: Rumour or Fact?
It’s been almost half a decade for the E631 controversy, but it keeps on lingering in the minds of people of Muslim community. Still, there have been groups amongst Muslims who consider the controversy to be a mere rumour and the others who are hesitant to eat Lays chips or have completely left eating the Lays chips.
Well, analysing all the aspects of the ‘Lays’ controversy and the points raised against the PepsiCo during the case, one encounters two different perspectives. There are various blogs, forums and online contents which clearly blame PepsiCo for making use of E631 extracted from pig fat and calls Lays as haram for the Muslims. The group supporting this ideology presented various references stating that the E631 (Disodium inosinate) which is added in the Lays as taste enhancer is actually obtained in three different sources namely from sardines (fish), from yeast extract of brewer (a by-product of beer-making process) and can be extracted from pig’s meat. The people argued that if it’s made from sardines, then there is no problem in eating Lays potato chips. However, they said that it is better to avoid eating chips when made from brewer’s yeast extract and taboo on Muslims if it is obtained from pig’s meat.
As the rumours were such that PepsiCo uses E631 and it can be obtained from pig’s meat also, certain groups Muslims somewhere down the line started believing the rumours to be true. As the Holy Quran states eating pig as haram (forbidden on Muslims) in its Surah Al-Maida (chapter 5, Verse 3), many of the people from the Muslims community boycotted eating Lays potato chips. It didn’t stop here and the rumour went viral with many having debate over the issue for years now. People started commenting how unhealthy eating junk food is and especially when fats of animals like pig are used in it. These entire points raise various health related issues online and various other media along with the hurting of religious sentiments of Muslims by PepsiCo. Many who prefer eating vegetarian food also tried to avoid consumption of Lays compelling the company to intervene and justify as well as solve the queries that dwelled in the people’s minds to eradicate the rumours completely.
However, PepsiCo reacted to all this quickly claiming that the E631 used in the Lays is made from Tapioca starch extracted from plant and not from any animal’s meat. The company also presented certificates sanctioned by some of the big Islamic authorities approving Lays to be halal to support its side. The certificates had written notifications stating that the E631 used in the product is derived from halal source. Some of the Islamic authorities supporting this perspective included the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, South African National Halaal Authority, Jamia Ashrafia of Pakistan and other Central Islamic bodies from the countries that supply raw material for the production of Lays chips.
In addition to this, one can wonder about is why PepsiCo didn’t declare the name of the plant from which it extracts the tapioca starch. Moreover, we wonder why PepsiCo didn’t come up with a video ad showing making of E631 or the facility where the ingredient E631 is made. We are well aware of the case in which the worms were found in Cadbury and the company was blamed for playing with the lives of children. In such worst case, Cadbury responded very well and came up with a commercial showing how neatly and carefully the Cadbury chocolates are made in healthy environment. Company could very well justify that the worms found in Cadbury wasn’t due to company’s fault, but probably the fault of the dealer or retailer.
On the other hand, we also know that the companies don’t disclose their formula. The best instance of this is KFC, which has not revealed its formula of spices blend used by its chain outlets for cooking its dishes. Similarly, it is clear that PepsiCo didn’t want its formula of making Lays to become known and so they avoided any sort of commercial depicting the making of chips or deriving of E631 from tapioca starch from plant.
Although many of the Muslims may not trust the brand and avoid eating Lays potato chips, it is to be noted that the PepsiCo has received the certificates of using halal ingredients in chips from some of the well renowned and trusted centres of Islamic authorities. Still, if any of you have some strong points to support your view over the matter, then you can leave your valuable comments that would enhance the clarity on whether Muslims should eat Lays chips or not.
However, we being health conscious would always suggest you to take healthy diet and avoid junk food.