"Muslims criticise Walkers after it is revealed that some crisp varieties contain alcohol"
Furious Muslims have heavily criticised Walkers crisps after it emerged that certain varieties of the manufacturer's products contain trace elements of alcohol.
The report in Asian newspaper Eastern Eye, highlights concerns raised by shopkeeper Besharat Rehman, who owns a halal supermarket in Bradford, West Yorkshire.
Mr Rehman told the paper: "A customer informed us that Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli and Doritos Chilli Heat Wave are not on Walkers' alcohol-free list. Our suppliers were unaware of this."Even if it is a trace amount of alcohol, Walkers should make it clear on the packaging so that the customer can make an informed choice.
"I feel frustrated and angry. I have let my customers down simply because such a big company like Walkers is not sensitive to Muslim needs.
"Many of them were my daughter's favourite crisps. As soon as I found out about the alcohol in them, I called home to ask my wife to throw out all the packets."
Shuja Shafi, who chairs the food standards committee of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that he intended to investigate. "Certainly we would find it very offensive to have eaten food with alcohol."
Masood Khawaja, of the Halal Food Authority, said that this was not the first time the issue had been raised with Walkers.
"They should have looked into the matter and solved it instead of hiding behind labelling regulations. It does not matter what percentage of alcohol is involved.
"Besides Muslims, there are a lot of teetotal people who would not like to consume alcohol in any form. As far as possible we try and lobby for halal symbols on popular products like Kellogg's cereals.
"But we have always told Muslims to check the contents list even if a product is marked suitable for vegetarians. But to not mention it on the packaging is unfair."
However, a spokesperson for Walkers said that trace amounts of alcohol in crisps or bread are believed to be permissible for Muslims.
"We do not add alcohol to our products. However, ethyl alcohol may be present in trace amounts in a very small number of our flavours.
"It is used as a carrying agent for flavourings, and is found in many common food and drink products.
"Foods like bread can also contain the same or higher trace amounts due to fermentation. "We are aware of the concerns from some Muslim consumers about the appropriateness of specific ingredients. We take the concerns of our consumers extremely seriously.
"In previous assessments by Muslim scholars, foods and drinks that contain trace amounts of ethyl alcohol have been confirmed as permissible for Muslim consumption because of both the fact that the ingredient does not bear its original qualities and does not change the taste, colour or smell of the product, and its very low level."
Dipesh Gadher, Christopher Morgan and Jonathan Oliver, "Minister warns of 'inbred' Muslims." The Sunday Times; 10 Feb. 2008
A government minister has warned that inbreeding among immigrants is causing a surge in birth defects - comments likely to spark a new row over the place of Muslims in British society.
Phil Woolas, an environment minister, said the culture of arranged marriages between first cousins was the "elephant in the room". Woolas, a former race relations minister, said: "If you have a child with your cousin the likelihood is there'll be a genetic problem."
The minister, whose views were supported by medical experts this weekend, said: "The issue we need to debate is first cousin marriages, whereby a lot of arranged marriages are with first cousins, and that produces lots of genetic problems in terms of disability [in children]."
Woolas emphasised the practice did not extend to all Muslim communities but was confined mainly to families originating from rural Pakistan. However, up to half of all marriages within these communities are estimated to involve first cousins.
"If you talk to any primary care worker they will tell you that levels of disability among the Pakistani population are higher than the general population. And everybody knows it's caused by first cousin marriage.
"The problem is that many of the parents themselves and many of the public spokespeople are themselves products of first cousin marriages. It's very difficult for people to say 'you can't do that' because it's a very sensitive, human thing."
He added that the issue is not talked about. "The health authorities look into it. Most health workers and primary care trusts in areas like mine are very aware of it. But it's a very sensitive issue. That's why it's not even a debate and people outside of these areas don't really know it exists."
"This is to do with a medieval culture where you keep wealth within the family," she said.
"If you go into a paediatric ward in Bradford or Keighley you will find more than half of the kids there are from the Asian community. Since Asians only represent 20%-30% of the population, you can see that they are over represented.[....]
On the topic of relations, I have to wonder why I seem to be the only Walker on the planet who isn't into some major money-making conspiracy to harm the feelings of the ummah. Since I am the poor relation, take pity, oh my brother, and send some relief my way.