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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
Muslims get soft drinks go-ahead
Lucozade has been declared "halal"
Muslims in the UK have been given permission to consume soft drinks which contain minute traces of alcohol and pork products.

Under strict interpretation of Muslim law, Lucozade and Ribena were both previously considered to be "unclean".

Lucozade contains 0.01% ethyl alcohol to aid flavouring, which the Muslim Law Council now says is too small to matter

Ribena previously used gelatin - a pork by-product - in its production but has now changed its manufacturing methods.

Long-running dilemma

The Muslim Law Council - the UK's highest authority on halal (clean) food - consulted earlier rulings by imams on halal food before reaching its decision.

In the ruling, the Council's chair, Zaki Badawi, said precedents had been set allowing the use of non-halal ingredients in certain cases.

"I see no harm in consuming Ribena and Lucozade which contain traces of ethyl alcohol and animal ingredients that do not bear their original qualities and do not change the taste, colour or smell of the product," Mr Badawi said.

In its submission to the Muslim Law Council, the drinks' maker, GlaxoSmithKline, pointed out fruit juices and bread could also contain the same or higher trace amounts of alcohol due to natural fermentation.

The decision ends a long-running dilemma for some devout Muslims who have avoided buying the brands for fear of breaching religious rules.

In the wake of the ruling, the British Soft Drinks Association said it would not propose a new labelling policy but some companies might decide to mark their products "halal" to prevent any future confusion.

A spokesman said: "Soft drinks are non-alcoholic, we welcome this confirmation and hope that it can reassure those consumers who were concerned."


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