PARIS (AFP) – A French start-up is hoping to take a slice of the multi-billion Halal food market with a device allowing diners to find out within minutes whether a dish contains pork.
Capital Biotech has received orders from as far afield as Turkey, Chile and Indonesia for its “Halal Test” which tests within 10 minutes whether a food contains pork meat, forbidden for Muslims and Jews.
Launched only a fortnight ago, the company has won nearly 100,000 ($135,000) in orders, a “surprise” according to co-founder Jean-Francois Julien.
The company acknowledges that the test, a one-use device costing 6.90 euros, does not constitute a complete “Halal” test, which also requires information about how the animal was slaughtered.
But it “allows you to dispel a one-off doubt, for example when you are on holiday or when a new ‘Halal’ product hits the market,” said Julien.
To use the device, the cautious diner mixes a small amount with hot water and inserts a small strip into the mixture. The strip tests for pork proteins and takes less than 10 minutes.
France’s five million Muslims (the largest population in Europe) have been hit with food scandals – in 2011, “Halal” sausages were discovered to contain pork – and want to be sure they are not eating forbidden food, said Abbas Bendali from marketing firm Solis.
Capital Biotech believes however that 70 per cent of its sales will eventually come from professionals who want a quick way of testing whether food is suitably for non pork eaters.
Bendali said the cost of the device would inevitably deter individuals “at a time of economic crisis”.
“It’s difficult to invest seven euros to test a bowl of pasta that costs three,” he said.
Muslims are more reassured by “a genuine Halal certificate,” he said.