food additives
Japanese culture

Which food additives should Muslims avoid in Japan? With Japanese translation.

Which food additives are animal-derived?

You all may be aware that Japanese food culture is so different from countries whose majority of people are Muslims. We eat pork and drink alcohol on daily basis, but it is not the only thing; we have food additives made from pig or animals not religiously processed. Even though it cannot be seen from outside, we have so many of such products added on our food.

Just avoiding the meal with meat is not enough in Japan. It is extremely difficult to tell all the food additives that are made from animals, however, by reading this article you will know basic terms you have to avoid.

Check this article to know Japanese seasonings that may have alcohol.

Food additives made from pig / animal products.

The following is the list of food additives that are mostly made from animal extract. You can jump to the article by clicking the term you are interested.

Let’s take a look at each food additive and the examples of food items.

Gelatin (ゼラチン)

Gelatin is made from pig or animal bones, skin or tendon, which is widely used in Japan to make food like a jelly. It is used for marshmallow, jelly, cake, or whatever the item that has jiggly texture. It can be substituted by the plant called Agar (寒天), which is 100% halal item.

Or there is a Gelatin made from fish, too. Although it is not widely used, if it is confirmed that it is fish-derived, then it can be a safe food for Muslims.

Emulsifier (乳化剤)

It is made either from animal or a plant like soybean. Emulsifier works to mix oil and water, so that the product is used in milk and dairy products.

Emulsifier is also used in cosmetics, because it gives a smooth texture when applied, which works to keep skin moisturized. This is the reason why there are some cosmetics which are Halal-certified.

Margarine is made from oil and emulsifier, so it should be avoided if it is using animal-derived emulsifier.

Lard (ラード)

Lard is pig oil. It is used more in South Asian countries, and it is not a general seasoning for Japanese meal. Yet, there is one dish that uses a lot of lard. It is Ramen.

Adding lard on top of Ramen would give a savory flavor, and it works to keep the soup of the noodle very hot as it covers the surface completely. Ramen, whatever the style it is, should be eaten at a Halal or Muslim-friendly restaurant.

Sometimes, Lard is added into frying oil, too. Even though the menu does not have animal-derived ingredients, you should be careful of their frying oil when eating fried food.

Collagen (コラーゲン)

Collagen is also a product from animal and works just like Gelatin. Gelatin is made after collagen is heated up, so they are basically the same thing. However, collagen is more used in the cosmetic and beauty products, so they are used in drinks or emulsion to put on your skin.

Placenta (プラセンタ) is another word that you have to be aware of. They are sometimes used along with collagen in beauty products.

Shortening (ショートニング)

Shortening is used in various foods, especially in confectionaries and pastries. As the name indicates, shortening works to cut and shorten the dough, which as a result gives crispy texture. It is used in bread, biscuits or baked items.

As a tourist, you may find shortening in the souvenirs and bread. There is also a plant-based shortening, so you can check with the manufacturer. However, if you do not have enough time to check with them, choose products that use butter or olive oil instead. It can be pricier, but safe for Muslims.

Learn more about Japanese breads in this article.

Halal food in Japan is quite difficult.

We guess now all of you are aware that we have such a different food culture, and it is extremely difficult to pursue complete Halal food in Japan.

Instead, we deliver Halal certified food to your preferred location, with a small service fee. If you would like to fully enjoy your gourmet in Japan, feel free to let us know!

Want to know how difficult your journey to Japan will be?