Ice Cream, from Health to the Tipping Point of Halalness

Ice cream. Who doesn’t know this snack? The sweet taste, the melted texture in the mouth, and the cold sensation made many people fall in love. But what about the halalness?  

Now, various types of ice cream are available in many outlets, ranging from grocery stores to supermarkets. Consumers are free to choose the flavor variants that are their favorites.

One of the uniqueness of this snack is its enthusiasts who come from various ages, social statuses, places of residence, and even citizenship. Not surprisingly, many industry players produce ice cream with various price ranges, depending on their respective target markets.

Ice cream is grouped into dairy products, because the lion’s share of ice cream constituents are ingredients derived from milk. Basically, milk is included in the list of non-critical ingredients (positive list) during the processing process not mixed with any ingredients. However, it is undeniable that making ice cream involves various ingredients.

In terms of health, according to the Lecturer of Food Science and Technology, Bogor Agricultural University as well as the halal auditor of the Institute for the Study of Food, Medicines, and Cosmetics of the Indonesian Ulema Council (LPPOM MUI), Prof. Dr.. Ir. Sedarnawati Yasni, M.Agr., basically milk is the perfect food, contains proteins and vitamins that babies need and is generally useful for human health (all ages).

Some of these nutrients include protein, vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, immunoglobin, vitamin A, zinc, essential fatty acids, lactose, and essential amino acids. In addition, whole cow’s milk belongs to the group of non-critical ingredients (positive list). However, it would be a different story if this milk had been given a mixture of other ingredients.

“Let’s assume, a serving of ice cream (100 gr) contains about 207 calories. This amount has exceeded the sugar intake limit recommended by the American Heart Association, which is 150 calories per day for adult men and 100 calories per day for adult women,” explained Sedarnawati.

Therefore, excessive consumption of ice cream can lead to an increase in body weight or the risk of appearing certain diseases. High sugar levels, for example, which can lead to insulin resistance. In the long run, this will lead to type 2 diabetes. In addition, it causes problems in the stomach, such as bloating, pain, and cramps.

In addition to health issues, as good Muslims, of course, we also need to pay attention to the halalness of the ice cream consumed. Some ice cream ingredients have a fairly high critical point. One of the most important ingredients is cream or milk fat. This ingredient is one of the determining factors for the price of ice cream. Products with an economical price category, have a milk fat content of about 10%, while ice cream with a standard price up to super premium contains milk fat around 15-18%.

“The milk fat in ice cream serves to enrich the taste and create a soft texture. This material also provides a good ‘body’ and pelumeran characteristics. In industrial processes, ice cream provides a lubricating effect on the container. This is contrary to the nature of non-fatty ingredients in ice cream products, which tend to be harsh in freezer equipment,” explained Ir. Hendra Utama, MM., Advisor of Halal Communication LPPOM MUI.

In addition to milk fat, other ingredients used in making ice cream are non-fat solid milk (milk solid nonfat) which is “whipping“, so it is able to retain water to increase viscosity and reduce the formation of ice crystals.

Ingredients that fall into this category are lactose (carbohydrates), whey protein concentrate (WPC), casein, and whey. All of them are by-products of the cheese industry. Which is a critical point, when the enzymes used are not derived from halal materials (for example pigs or cows that are not islamically slaughtered).

Sweeteners (sweeteners) become the next important ingredient. The ingredient commonly used as a sweetener is generally sugar. In addition to improving the taste, sweeteners can lower the freezing point, so there is water that does not freeze at the storage temperature of the ice cream (-15 to -18 degrees Celsius). In effect, ice cream becomes easier to scoop.

However, in the process of making granulated sugar, it is possible to use a decolorization material that uses activated carbon. If activated carbon comes from mining products or from wood charcoal, then it is certainly not a problem. However, if you use bone charcoal, it must be ascertained the halal status of the animal’s origin.

“Activated charcoal is haram used if it comes from the bones of illegitimate animals, or the bones of halal animals that are not slaughtered according to Islamic law,” said Dr. Ir. Mulyorini R. Hilwan, M.Si., Advisor of Halal Audit Service LPPOM MUI.

In addition, to increase the stability of the ice cream, a stabilizer is needed, so that ice crystals do not form during storage. The stabilizer ingredients commonly used are gum (locust bean gum, guar gum, xanthan gum), carrageenan, CMC (carboxyl methyl cellulose), sodium alginate, and gelatin.

“One ingredient that has a high critical point is gelatin. Almost all of the gelatin’s products were imported from abroad. Even though it is widely used for various kinds of daily consumption products,” said Ir. Muti Arintawati, M.Si., Executive Director of LPPOM MUI.

The next material, emulsifier to bind water and fat. The ingredients commonly used as emulsifiers are egg yolk, mono- and glycerides, as well as polysorbate 80. Mono-/di-glide and polysorbate 80 are sourced from fat, so it must be ensured that it comes from vegetable or animal origins slaughtered from Islamically halal animals.

This also applies to flavoring. According to Dr. Nancy Dewi Yuliana, a lecturer in Agricultural Technology at the Bogor Agricultural University and halal auditor of LPPOM MUI, there are two types of flavors, namely natural and artificial flavors. Natural fruit flavors are generally derived from vegetable materials and through a physical processing process, for example through pressing without the addition of other ingredients. Then it can be said that the natural flavors processed like this include non-critical materials.

“Meanwhile, synthetic flavors are more complex and in terms of halalness can also be included in the category of critical materials. Although the name seems to be safe, because of the fruit flavor, sometimes there are also ingredients that make up synthetic fruit flavors which are fat derivatives,” explained Nancy.

Coloring agents are also inseparable in making ice cream. There are dyes that are made from synthetic (artificial) and natural (natural) materials. Synthetic dyes are preferred by food manufacturers because they have a fairly good level of color stability and a relatively low price.

Meanwhile, natural dyes are usually less stable. To avoid color damage from the influence of temperature, light, and other environmental influences, often this type of dye is added with a coating agent through a micro-encapsulation process. One type of coating that is often used is gelatin. (YN)

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