THE official body responsible for declaring foods as halal – and therefore suitable for Muslims – has said it is up to individual consumers whether or not they eat certain flavours of crisps and tortilla chips.

It comes after a science student from Blackburn said she received a warning on the messaging service WhatsApp about the Doritos chilli heatwave product and Walker's Sensations Thai Sweet Chilli crisps.

Fariha Rehman said her parents also received the message – which claimed the products contained alcohol – and so decided to call the companies herself to investigate.

Pepsico who own Doritos and Walkers said: “We use soy sauce in one of the flavourings for Chilli Heatwave Doritos.

“As a fermented product it contains trace levels of alcohol.”

Trace amounts of ethanol is also used in some products as a flavour enhancer.

The Halal Monitoring Committee said: “Our standard is that anything which contains less than 0.1 per cent of ethanol is permissible.

“But of course not all companies disclose how much ethanol is used, and therefore it is up to the individual to decide whether they will still buy the product.

“Walkers have never claimed to be halal, they have always stated that they are suitable for vegetarians and contain ethanol.”

Miss Rehman, 19, said: "Muslims need to know about it, because alcohol is prohibited.

“I feel so empty inside knowing that I have eaten these crisps containing alcohol, as we are a strict Muslim family, we do not allow it.

“I got a Whatsapp message about foods we should avoid, and I checked the ingredients and the packaging for Walkers did not mention alcohol.

“When I called the companies, they confirmed to me that few flavours do have alcohol in them.”

Miss Fariha added: “Suitable for vegetarians does not mean it doesn’t have alcohol in it.

“It is wrong of them not to label this, and misleading. I am absolutely fuming, but I was told that if you didn’t know about it, then it is not a sin, but if you know and still eat the products, then it would be wrong."

After receiving the message, Miss Rehman also contacted McCoy’s and Ribena, who said their products were halal and did not have alcohol in any products.