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Is Calbee in Japan Halal? Here is the answer.

The biggest snack company in Japan.

Calbee (カルビー) is probably the biggest snack company from Japan, whose name is known to so many foreigners, too. Their products are mainly potato snacks. Even a short-term visitor to Japan may have a chance to see their products, because their snacks are available at anywhere in Japan. It is not only limited to supermarkets but also convenience stores and even at airports.

Yet there is still a question for Muslim travelers: Are they halal? Looking at the labels of each product, they usually do not contain any restricted ingredients. This time we have inquired Calbee about their making process, and the answer was that they do not recommend their products for Muslims who would like to follow religious restrictions.

Ingredients are all Halal, and why Calbee is not Halal?

Let’s first take a look at their labels: We have prepared Jagabee, a potato stick snack.

Ingredients of Salt Flavor:
Potato, Plant oil, Salt, Corn Starch, Seaweed essence powder, Yeast Extract powder, Seasoning like Amino Acid, Antioxidant

As you can see, looks like there is no haram ingredients.

Just like Jagabee, other Calbee products are almost the same. They have minimum food additives to produce healthy snacks, which is a great news for Muslims because it can reduce the risk of pork or animal-derived ingredients.

Still, the answer from Calbee was that they share the process line with other types of snacks, which may be causing contamination. As there are too many factories and products, they can never tell there is a product that has no risk of contamination.

Calbee says that there is a risk of contamination because they use the same machinery for many products.

Another factor why the product cannot be Halal.

There was another factor why Calbee cannot recommend their products to Muslims. This is because they cannot trace back all the ingredients used in the product.

For example, Soy sauce is commonly used in snacks. As mentioned in the article of seasonings, soy sauce can have a very small portion of alcohol. However, according to Japanese law, it is no longer necessary for the manufacturer to say that alcohol is used, as long as they mention that soy sauce is used on the label.

They cannot trace back all the ingredients used to produce one item, and it is not required by Japanese law to mention all the ingredients.

What about souvenir products like Jaga Pokkuru, Potekotan or Jaga Pirika?

These are popular souvenirs from Hokkaido, and they are sold only in Hokkaido or selected department stores or airports. We have clarified with Calbee if they are made in a separate factory, because they are special products. Their answer was that these souvenir products are also made in the same factory of Calbee.

Products using beans, like miino or Saya Endo?

They are not potato products, they are made from beans. They are also made in the same process line that handles potato products, so that the risk of contamination cannot be denied.

Ingredients are super simple: Beans, Salt, and Plant Oil. Still, Calbee cannot call them “Halal”.

What do you think about this issue?

This is the Calbee’s official answer. As a big company like Calbee, it is definitely understandable that they can never say that they can recommend their products to Muslims, because they are the one who have to be fully responsible for the issue.

However, in a real life, it is extremely difficult to trace back all the food items, no matter where you are. It is your own judgement how you regard this problem.

One very important thing is that even though ingredients on the labels are carefully checked, we can never tell how it was made in the factory. The same thing applies to other companies and products in Japan.

Information as of May 2023.