Halal testing kit

The Halal testing kit can detect the presence of pork in food products

A food testing kit that allows consumers to check foods for the presence of pork could soon be introduced into the UK, its creators have claimed.

Halal Test, launched in France today (27 October) by French start-up Capital Biotech, uses immunochromatography – the same technology used for pregnancy tests – to detect traces of pork in food, cosmetics and medicines.

Co-founder Abderrahmane Chaoui said the portable test, which costs €6.90 each or €125 for a pack of 25, had already attracted “considerable interest” ahead of the launch, with several companies contacting him about distributing in the UK and further afield.

Halal Test is currently available only in France through traditional retail channels or online, however the UK was a “very interesting market” for the entrepreneur and his business partner Jean-Francois Julien “due to its large Muslim population”.

The test is packaged with a small tube into which a food sample is mixed with warm water. A test strip is then inserted into the tube, and after a few minutes reveals whether any pork traces are present by displaying two lines for a positive result and one for a negative result.

Julien and Chaoui also produce tests to detect the presence of alcohol in food products and a range of laboratory-based Elisa and PCR tests for pork.

After more than a year and a half in development, the kits were easier to use and cheaper than comparable tests, said Chaoui.

“There are similar tests which use similar technology, but they are much more complicated to use, and require a special liquid extraction buffer usually containing ethanol,” he claimed.

“We concentrated our research efforts to simplify the use of these tests and get rid of the liquid extraction buffer, which makes them easy to use by anyone and anywhere.”

Chaoui added the company was also looking to develop a test that recognised an animal’s blood oxygen levels, something that could eventually identify the method of killing used, and whether it was conscious at the time of death.

There was a distinct demand for such a testing product in the UK, dependent on “price, accuracy and ease of use”, claimed Shaykh Tauqir Ishaq, head of certification at the Halal authority Board.

“DNA tests for example are extremely expensive and this could be a good alternative,” he said.

It could provide an “extra layer of surety in halal food”, he added, but warned that it would not currently be able to test the “halalness” of the food.