This post is also available in: 日本語
Written by Haruko Kogiso
What do we look for when we are in the search for halal baby formulas? Surely if they had halal certified seals on the products, it would be convenient and becomes an easy task. However in Japan, that is not the case. Not even one Japanese baby formula has a halal certified seal.
Thus, we find ourselves forced to check every single ingredient displayed on the can. Before long, we find ourselves in total confusion due to the ambiguous names and codes.
The next step would be to ask the manufacturer about the ingredients for their animal or alcohol potential source. However, when we ask them about that for religious reasons, (I asked WAKODO and MEIJI, etc.) they request us, consumers who have religious restrictions not to use their products as they are not halal certified. And your quest ends there since they chose not to answer further questions when you have said the inquiry is based on religious reasons.
But if you have to have the baby formulas, we sure would like to know the ingredients to judge for ourselves. As a reality, the answers I got from some major Japanese baby formula companies were that they cannot confirm if any ingredient was derived from haram sources. As for animal derived ingredients, taurine written on the baby formula is from ox bile. And some proteins are from swine. All of the baby formula for 0-9 months contain taurine in Japan as for June 22, 2015. But not all contain protein from swine.
Another concern is nucleotide (which is also known as Adenosine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5’- Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5’-Monophosphate, Inosito 5’-Monophosphate, etc.). Alcohol may be a nutrient source for the yeast to get nucleotide. In other countries as United States, Canada, and Great Britain, manufacturers have confirmed if they use this particular ingredient or not.
Having the fact that all Japanese baby formulas for 0-9 months are not free from haram ingredients, I have asked 7 or more online halal shops for halal baby formula and if it is possible to import them. Almost all shops did not have them. As I looked into the reason, it is because of the tax for import dairy goods (25-35 %). The price after importing baby formulas would be high to a point that wouldn’t be reasonable to think people would actually buy them. The only shop I found which sometimes gets halal baby formulas was Al-Flah online shop:
As for halal baby formula accessible online is:
However, when buying, I recommend checking the import tax prior to placing your order to avoid possible distress.
Lastly a message to the Japanese manufacturers. Considering the Japanese dairy importing tax, muslims are most likely to look for baby formulas domestically and if there were products which are halal certified, it would be the best. However, at the least we demand full openness of the ingredients. We only want products that are without animal and alcohol derived ingredients. I strongly suggest making one product like that with the statement in English and Japanese on the package. It would make things so easy for muslims and clear for all. Even general Japanese mothers have been shocked when I shared the news of swine ingredients in baby formulas.
One last thing that popped into my mind, is what I would do if I couldn’t breast feed nor find someone to do so for me. The first Japanese baby formula was made in 1923. Before then, babies grew up just fine without them. We would not be so wrong to ask our grandmothers what they had done in the same situation. Sometimes we feel so desperate when we don’t find which our ancestors didn’t even have. But as muslims we know in every situation there is barakah, who knows, maybe it’s better to find a much more natural and safer solution.