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MUSLIM

A Made in France ‘Halal test’ to check for pork

A French company has developed a so-called “Halal test” which will allow Muslim consumers to detect, within a matter minutes, the presence of pork or alcohol in food.

A Made in France 'Halal test' to check for pork
In a similar style to a pregnancy test, the test consists of a strip which the consumer must put into a glass of warm water containing a sample of food. Photo: halaltest.fr

Some have suggested it could be the latest "Made in France" success story.

Priced at €6,90 each or €125 for a packet of 25, a device, simply called "Halal test", is designed for use by Muslims who, under the dietary requirements of their religion are forbidden from consuming pork and alcohol, Le Nouvel Observateur reported.

In a similar style to a pregnancy test, the device consists of a strip which the consumer must put into a glass of warm water containing a sample of food. After a few minutes, the test will then show one of two options: either a single bar for a negative test or two bars for a positive one, which means there is alcohol or pork present.

The test was created by the company Capital Biotech, founded by Franco-Algerian duo Abderrahmane Chaoui, a graduate in business and entrepreneur Jean-François Julien.

While no test currently exists which allows Muslims to verify if food really is Halal – i.e. it contains meat from an animal slaughtered according to Islamic ritual, Chaoui, 25, says the test is important to confirm "the absence of food products forbidden by the Koran".

The tests will be especially helpful to Muslims when buying unlabelled food, the Algerian born Chaoui said.

“While travelling, if you go to a restaurant or order a meal to takeaway, the products aren’t always labelled,” he said.

The entrepreneurs are tapping into a potentially lucrative market. With France home to around six millions Muslims, the market for Halal food is estimated to be worth €5.5 billion a year.

Nevertheless, the business partners are optimistic that they will be able to one day create a test that will be able to determine how an animal was slaughtered based on the oxygenation of the blood.

Although Halal is a term normally applied to raw meat products, it can also refer to cooked meals, drinks, sweets and even cosmetic and pharmaceutical products.

Food falsely labelled as Halal has been at the centre of some scandals in France in recent years.

In January 2011 poultry sausages labelled as Halal from the company Knacki Herta were removed from supermarket shelves after tests revealed the presence of pork.

In deed the issue of Halal food has long been a contentious issue in France, with far right politicians repeatedly calling for public canteens not to serve Halal food and some conservative figures following suit.

Before the 2012 presidential election Nicolas Sarkozy, under pressure not to lose voters to the far-right National Front party jumped on the issue of Halal, saying that there should not be "alternative" meat options in school canteens.

In March 2013, The Local reported how Jewish and Muslim parents in the south-western town of Arveyres were outraged when their children's school announced that the canteen would no longer be serving a substitute for pork.

More recently in July this year, a controversial ruling that ordered a French prison to serve up halal meals to inmates was overturned by a court in Lyon.

READ MORE: French court rules no halal meals in prison

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FOOD & DRINK

Regional cuisine: What to eat and drink in central France

When travelling through France ordering local dishes and drinks is always a good bet, so we're taking a virtual roadtrip through France, highlighting some of the must-try regional specialities.

Regional cuisine: What to eat and drink in central France

This section of our roadtrip takes in the central part of France, from the tourist hotspots of the Alps and west coast seaside resorts through the less well know (but wonderful) central regions. 

The following is just our personal recommendation for some of the areas we’re passing through – please leave your suggestions and foodie tips in the comments box below.

Savoie/Haut-Savoie – Extremely popular for winter sports, the French Alps are stunning all year round and a summer trip for hiking, cycling or water sports is also highly recommended. The long, cold winters and the popularity of sporty holidays means that many Savoie specialities tend towards the hearty, filling, cheese-based and calorific – fondue, raclette and tartiflette.

What to order: It has to be fondue – but this is really a winter dish. Although some tourist spots sell it in summer it’s best enjoyed after a hard day hiking or skiing while watching the snow swirl around outside your window. The basics of a fondue are always the same – a big pot of melted cheese and some bread to dip in – but there are many varieties based on cheese type. We prefer a mixed-cheese option to get the full flavour spectrum, in the spirit of going local let’s order the Fondue Savoyard.

To drink: Wine! Old Swiss and French grannies will tell you that drinking water with fondue can be fatal, as it causes the cheese to solidify and stick in your stomach. As far as we know this has never been proven with science, but it’s definitely true that a crisp white wine is perfect to cut through the rich, fatty cheese.

Opt for a local vin jaune for the perfect partner.  

 
 
 
 
 
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Lyon – you might think that the whole of France is a foodie destination, but to French people Lyon is the ‘foodie capital’, and for that reason it’s a highly popular staycation destination with the French. Definitely check out the ‘bouchon’ restaurants which specialise in the best in local cuisine. 

What to order: Brioche de pralines rosé. There are so many delicious Lyon savoury specialities that it’s hard to pick one so we’ve gone for a sweet treat here. Pink pralines (nuts in a sugar coating) are the city’s signature sweet and while they’re great on their own, for an extra indulgent treat you can get brioche (sweet bread) studded with pink pralines. A slice (or two) with a pot of coffee is quite possibly the world’s best breakfast.

And to drink:  Beaujolais. Stick with us here, there’s more to beaujolais than the much-derided beaujolais nouveau (although that is getting better these days). The wine appellation extends almost to Lyon and is home to hundreds of small vineyards all making beautiful wines, many of whom are taking up production of vins bio (organic) or vins naturel.  

 
 
 
 
 
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READ ALSO: Bio, natural or biodynamic: 5 things to know about French organic wines

Auvergne – central France tends to get missed by many tourists, which is a real shame because much of it is stunning, as well as being quieter and cheaper than the coastal areas. The area is dotted with mountains and (extinct) volcanoes which give it a really dramatic character.

What to order: Auvergnat cuisine is quite meat-based, although the region is also known for good cheeses. To combine the two into one meal, we highly recommend aligot – a type of silky, creamy mashed potato with lots of stringy cheese stirred in – topped with a sausage. Have this at a restaurant with a glass or good wine or buy it from a street stall and go watch the town’s famous rugby team. Either way, the experience will be sublime.

And to drink: Volvic. Those volcanoes that we mentioned earlier give the name to one of France’s most famous mineral waters – Volvic. The water is apparently filtered through six layers of rock for five years, so give your liver a rest and sample some.

 
 
 
 
 
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Corrèze – moving west takes us into Corrèze, one of France’s most sparsely populated départements and one that even some French people would struggle to point to on a map. Transport is not all that easy unless you have a car but if it’s well worth the effort to visit this hidden but lovely corner of France.

What to order: Savoury dishes often feature mushrooms (especially ceps) and chestnuts and freshwater fish such as perch are also popular but we’re going to pick a dessert – clafoutis. The baked fruit flan is hugely popular across France but is traditional in Corrèze – in the classic form it’s made with cherries, but lots of different fruit options are available.

And to drink: They grow a lot of nuts in Corrèze and as well as eating them, they’re often made into digéstifs as well. If by this stage of the roadtrip you are feeling a little heavy, try an after-dinner liqueur to help you digest (although, despite the name scientists claim that a digéstif doesn’t actually help digestion).

 
 
 
 
 
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Île d’Oléron – We’ve now reached the west coast, and just off the shore of the Vendée are two beautiful islands. Île de Ré is known as the ‘French Hamptons’ because it’s such a popular holiday destination for rich Parisians, while its smaller brother Île d’Oléron is less high profile but equally lovely.

What to order: This area is the centre of France’s oyster production and if you take a trip around the island (or on the mainland) you will see hundreds of oyster beds. Virtually all local restaurants serve them, but you’ll also see them piled high at markets, where the stallholders will shuck them for you if you’re afraid of losing a finger in the process.

And to drink: The island is known for its white wines which pair perfectly with oysters. Stop off at the market for a quick glass (and an oyster or two) when you’ve finished your shopping or buy a bottle, plus a platter of oysters and have a picnic. 

 
 
 
 
 
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Head to our Food & Drink section to find guides to the regional specialities of southern and northern France.

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