Inadequacy of Information Fuels Controversy; Are Oreo Cookies Halal?

Cookies are love! And when we talk about Oreos, it holds a special place in our heart. It is no doubt the world’s most beloved sweet treats. Oreo cookies are available in markets of around one hundred countries. Lately, it has become one of the most desirable snacks among people.

A few months back when the news about M&Ms not being halal broke, it shattered the hearts of many people. Now, again our other favorite snack Oreos are declared haram by the officials despite the fact there are so many different varieties of Oreo cookies. It has now become a matter of contradiction in each and every country.

The Oreo official replied to one of the comments declaring that it is not ‘halal approved’. One of the interesting things to note is that all the ingredients in the Oreo cookies are vegan approved.

The ingredients include unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate {vitamin b1}, riboflavin {vitamin b2}, folic acid), sugar, palm and/or canola oil, cocoa (processed with alkali), high fructose corn syrup, leavening (baking soda and/or calcium phosphate), salt, soy lecithin, chocolate, artificial flavor.

A tweet was sent by the ‘Oreo Cookie’ official on Saturday 11th May which said, “Thanks for reaching out! OREO cookies are not halal.” This created chaos among the Muslim consumers who retweeted this for around 7000 times on Tuesday afternoon.

Is it suitable for vegans?

Oreo cookie FAQS
Oreo cookie FAQS

@Sesa_Opas said: “This tweet will be captured and spread like wildfire on Facebook soon. And the PR of Oreo in my country will be working overtime.”

According to the FAQ section on the official Oreo cookies website, the cookies are ‘vegan-friendly’. Their recent admittance that the cookies are not halal suggests otherwise because vegan-friendly products are halal. It is possible that Oreos might have ‘cross contact’ with milk, which is either a small amount of milk has come in contact with the ingredients or the tools used to make them. These cookies are not for those people who completely shun animal-based products from their diet.

If you go through the ingredients you would not find any dairy ingredient but it is possible that cookies might have a microscopic amount of milk.

The Original Recipe of Oreo Cookies

According to FDA the cookies does not contain any milk thus it has restricted the brand to use word cream for their delicious white filling. Instead, Nabisco now uses the word ‘crème’ for its filling.

In the original recipe the cookies, the crème contained pig lard which Nabisco substituted it with vegetable oil in 1997.

It was in 2014 when an American leaked the Oreo recipe to a Chinese company in return of 28 million dollars. He got imprisonment for 15 years. It was then revealed that the white color and creamy texture was due to a harmful food additive, titanium dioxide. It can cause serious tissue and liver damage.

The manufacturers enlist it as artificial flavor vanillin and not titanium dioxide itself. Therefore there is no proper evidence that cookie surely contains this harmful food additive.

What the manufacturer has to say about this whole controversy?

Oreo cookie
Thanks for reaching out! OREO cookies are not halal. – OREO Cookie (@Oreo) May 11, 2019

“Our social media is outsourced and the message came in two parts. Only one part was circulated, but the other part clarified in ‘the US and Canada’. The tweet is incorrect and has misled consumers in our part of the world. Oreo products sold in this region are halal and compliant with local laws and regulations”, said Mondelez International spokesperson, Mondelez manufactures, distributes Oreo biscuits across GCC region.

According to this, Oreo cookies sold out in Canada and the US are not halal. In other countries, the delicious cookies are not just restricted to carn and are for everyone. Despite the fact these cookies contain all the halal ingredients, still, it is not halal certified in many of the countries.

He later further added: “We can assure you that all our Oreo products sold in the GCC are halal and fully compliant with local laws and regulations. Mondelez are proud that Oreo biscuits are manufactured in the GCC and as a responsible company we always seek to offer our consumers the best quality product, with labeling designed to give people clear information about our ingredients and the suitability for their diets.”

Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department, explained: “All Oreo consignments imported to Dubai are physically checked along with their documents by port inspectors. Furthermore, samples are also periodically tested at Dubai Central Laboratory for fitness and to confirm whether or not there has been any adulteration with any animal derivatives.”

What people have to say about this whole controversy?

@joebradford challenged the Oreo official below asking below the tweet, “Do you mean that you have not been certified halal? Or do you mean your products include ingredients that are forbidden for Muslims to consume?”

@TamiahNasirshah cleared up the confusion by emailing the brand directly.

Nicola's email
Tamiah Nasir Shah messaged the brand directly and received a reply @Twitter

@suadmuhamed further added, “They are saying that vanilla extract contains a small amount of alcohol, therefore, making it haram. Many believe that vanilla extract burns the alcohol when cooked and many don’t. I think it’s an eat at your own risk kind of thing.”

“Dear Oreo, please advise what about the cookies is not halal? Is it a certification or an ingredients issue? If you are vegetarian-friendly, then you are also halal friendly automatically. Please leave the fatwas (edicts) for Islamic scholars,” said @MuslimMatters.

“Good morning to everyone except the guy who is researching if Oreos are halal,” mocked @ShaykhAzhar.

@KhaledEreikat tweeted, “Me reading oreo boxes from now on.”

Adeena Tariq

Adeena's professional life has been mostly in hospital management, while studying international business in college. Of course, she now covers topics for us in health.

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