CAP calls for Halal certification of medicine and food supplements

CAP is concerned that medicine and food supplements containing substances prohibited for consumption by Muslims are being sold to them by hospitals and pharmacies. Many Muslims consume them without realizing that they are violating their religious dietary laws.
Medicines and supplements containing porcine (pork) and bovine (beef) source elements (gelatin used in capsules) are widely used in the health sector and easily available in pharmacies without any prescription by doctors.alt

For example, a commonly used medicine for diarrhea, with the brand name Imodium, contains porcine and is prescribed by doctors or easily available in pharmacies. Most consumers do not know that porcine is derived from pigs and thus its consumption is prohibited for Muslims.

Many supplements, which do not require a doctor’s prescription, also contain porcine or bovine source for the capsules. For example, the popular supplement Centrum Multivitamin contains porcine and bovine. The source of the bovine is not stated and could be from cattle not slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law.

In Malaysia, there is no law requiring halal labeling of medical products and supplements. Only the contents of the products must be stated on the labels. The information on the labels may reveal that the products contain prohibited substances but it is in fine print and many people, particularly the elderly, cannot read it. Also, most people cannot understand the technical terms on the labels such as porcine and bovine.

Halal certification on the labels is necessary to enable Muslim consumers, when purchasing medicine or supplements, to purchase those that are not prohibited under Islamic law. In Australia, the organization Halal Certified Medicine issues HCM logos to be placed on the products after it has been ascertained that they do not contain any prohibited ingredients. Pharmacies there are introducing a line of Halal certified products. Printed information on this initiative is attached.

In India, packaged food products are required to be labeled with a mandatory mark in order to distinguish between vegetarian and non-vegetarian. It is achieved by a simple procedure: placing a green dot symbol for vegetarian food and brown dot symbol for non-vegetarian food on the package. Violating this requirement is a punishable offence. A similar approach could be adopted here with regard to pharmaceutical products and supplements.

For Muslims the issue of Halal/Haram is important and touches on their faith. The Qur’an commands Muslims to consume only things that are Halal and Good. Therefore, we urge the authorities to enact a law on compulsory Halal certification for all drugs and supplements as soon as possible. Such a move will also contribute to the growth of Malaysia as a hub for Halal products in line with our national policy.CAP calls for Halal certification of medicine and food supplements.

Press release on 23 April 2014