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Islamic Dietary Laws

Some food products have the labels which say 'U' or 'K'. What are those letters?

The use of the letter "U" inside of the letter "O" is authorized by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, more familiarly known as the Orthodox Union, for use on foods that comply with Jewish dietary laws.

The letter "K" indicates that the food is Kosher-that is, it also complies with Jewish dietary laws and has been processed under the direction of a rabbi. The Hebrew word "Kosher" means permitted according to Torah Law.

When you see these letters, they mean that the product does not contain anything from an animal or pork origin. But it still may contain alcohol. So please check labels.

It is recommended, however, to read labels before buying food products. Read the ingredients on the food labels and understand the meaning of every ingredient. Always ask the food industries about ingredients or preservatives that are doubtful. Effort is being made by the Muslims on the East Coast to have a Halal (Muslim) letter for food products that meet Islamic requirements.

What are mono-and diglycerides? It is my understanding that they come from vegetable sources and should be HALAL. Is it not the case?

Monoglycerides and diglycerides or mono- and diglycerides, as they commonly appear on food labels, are a mixture of fatty substances containing glycerol and one (mono) or two (di) fatty acids. They are manufactured from the breakdown of fats and oils. They are available as monoglycerides only, diglycerides only, or a mixture of both.

These are widely used in the preparation of baked goods and varied food products. The consumer may also find them listed as Polysorbates, monostearates, Tween and Span. Glycerides are processed from fatty acids, both animal and vegetable.

The special qualities of these products which act as surfants, making water and oil soluble, make them invaluable components in many food items, such as margarine, shortenings, cream filings, toppings, coffee creamers (be careful with the Carnation powder brand which most people overlook) prepared cake mixes, doughnuts, and puddings. It should also be pointed out that ice cream, frozen desserts, instant mashed potatoes, peanut butter, snack pack foods, and many breakfast cereals contain di-glycerides and, therefore requires careful attention.

In addition, a product whose ingredient list states 'emulsifier' or 'emulsifier added' is indicative of the use of glycerides and requires certification. Many chocolates and candies contain such glyceride emulsifiers.

Many breads are made with shortenings, specially prepared dough conditioners, in which shortenings and di-glycerides are basic ingredients. Be very careful.

Commercially available mono- and diglycerides may be manufactured from vegetable oils, beef fat, LARD, or marine oils. Therefore, Muslims should stick to labels saying vegetable or marine, mono- and diglycerides.


The Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186

March / April 1993
Ramadan 1413
Ramadan Is Here
Letters to the Editor
Drug Dealer
Accepts Islam
Islamic World News
Islamic Dietary Laws
Cook's Corner
Women in Islam
Islamic Cure
Black Seed
Miracles of the Qur'an
Why I Embraced Islam
Stories of the Sahabah
The Kid's Corner
Sayings of the Prophet
Qur'anic Science
Book Review