Shafaqna (Shia International News Association) – The Grand Ayatollah Sistani answered some questions regarding Food.According to Shafaqna the questions and answers are as follows:
Question 1: We are unaware of the ingredients of food sold in shops in Western countries: it might be free from those ingredients that are forbidden to us or it might contain them. Are we allowed to eat such items without looking into their ingredients, or inquiring about them? Or is that not allowed to us?
Answer: It is permissible [to eat such food] as long as it is not known that it contains meat, fat, and their derivatives that are forbidden to us.
Question 2: Is it permissible to use, in our foods, oils derived from fish that are forbidden to us? What about using such oils for other matters?
Answer: It is not permissible to use such oils for cooking but using them for any other purposes is permissible.
Question 3: Is it permissible for a Muslim to attend a gathering where intoxicating drinks are being served?
Answer: Eating and drinking in those gatherings is forbidden. However, the prohibition in attending such gatherings is based on obligatory precaution. But there is no problem in attending such gatherings for the purpose of forbidding the evil (nahi ‘anil munkar), if one is capable of doing that.
Question 4: What is the general rule about foods made by Ahl-e Kitab (People of the Books)?
Answer: Since the followers of the past revealed religions (that is, the Jews, the Christians and the Zoroastrians) are ritually pure, many of the problems concerning the status and permissibility of the food are resolved when we live in their midst. It becomes permissible for us as Muslims to eat from their food no matter whether they touched it with their wet hands or not as long as we do not know or are not sure that it consists of what is forbidden to us, like intoxicating drinks. As for meat, fat and their extracts, they are haram and cannot be used unless one is sure that they are halal.
Question 5: Can I eat Christians’ foods that contain meat?
Answer: All kinds of food with the exception of meat, fat, and their extracts are permissible for a Muslim, even if he doubts that it might contain something which is forbidden for him to eat or doubts that its cook.
Question 6: Can we eat a meal that has been cooked by a non-Muslim whose religion we do not know?
Answer: It is permissible to eat the food and it is not necessary for the Muslim to question the person who prepared the food about his beliefs or disbeliefs, or whether or not he had touched the food, even if that inquiry is very convenient and natural for one who wants to ask.
Question 7: Can we eat food cooked by a non Muslim when we do not know whether or not it is clean?
Answer: A Muslim is allowed to eat any food made by a person whose faith and religion is not known to him, no matter whether that person touched it with wetness or did not touch it, provided that he does not know or is not sure that the food consists of what is forbidden to him.
Source: Ayatollah Sistani