Author: NIHT Media
Durban – A panel of Islamic jurists will investigate the implications for Muslim consumers of a decision by SAB to use carbon dioxide (CO2) derived from beer production in soft drinks bottled by subsidiary ABI.
This comes after SAB, the local arm of beer giant SABMiller, announced this week that it would invest R100 million in new CO2 capacity due to recent severe shortages of the gas. The facility will start operating in October.
The facility would purify CO2 produced as a by-product of the brewing process and use it to carbonate the Coca-Cola brands ABI manufactures, bottles and distributes, including Coke, Fanta and Sprite.
Moulana Abdul Wahab Wookay, the chief executive of the National Independent Halaal Trust (NIHT), said: “The NIHT has been informed by SAB of the plans but we would have to consult more widely and a panel of muftis would need to investigate further.”
In South Africa halaal certification is conducted by several organisations including the NIHT, the Muslim Judicial Council Halaal Trust and the Islamic Council of SA.
These organisations are party to the National Halaal Forum mandated to draw up a uniform set of halaal standards for South Africa.
Muslims are prohibited from consuming, among other things, alcoholic beverages and pork products.
Michael Farr, SAB’s communications manager, said: “We consulted with the NIHT before we proceeded with our plans for this investment and there was no indication that there could be a problem.”
However, Wookay said SAB had been told that a panel of Islamic experts needed to discuss the issue.
Farr said a further meeting with the NIHT was scheduled for tomorrow. He noted that the CO2 by-product from the brewing process would be “heavily purified and have absolutely no traces of alcohol”.
Gas shortages have limited ABI’s ability to supply enough soft drinks.
“Given the increased demand for our products, we do not want to have this kind of vulnerability in the future. This prompted our decision to make this investment in capacity, which will provide somewhere between 55 percent and 65 percent of our total needs,” Farr said.
Wookay said: “CO2 in soft drinks previously has not been problematic for Muslim consumers. But we need to run this past experts on Islamic law to gather their opinion.”
Wookay declined to say how long it would take to reach a decision.
Farr said it was not possible to say how many Muslim consumers bought Coca-Cola brands.
It is estimated that 4 percent of the population is Muslim.
First Published: 21/03/2007