Ingredients and preservatives in West food products

SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)- In this Appendix, I am listing some of the ingredients and components that are usually added to the food. These ingredients come from vegetable soure or animals or are produced chemically.

Since the labels on the food products do not list the origin of the ingredients, there is no way of classifying them as halãl or harãm, except by referring to the manufacturers.

As for the ingredients that shall be listed here, I have tried to ascertain the suitability of their halãl use based on the information that I could gather. However, one should know that if an ingredient that is completely absorbed in a food product [and cannot be detected unless we are told by the manufacturer], it is not obligatory in the sharí‘a to inquire about such ingredients to ascertain that they are free of harãm substances. (See the chapter on “Food & Drink”.)

Acetic Acid: It is found naturally in plant juices; it can also be produced chemically [from oil petroleum], and can also be derived from animal tissues.If it is extracted from plant juices or chemicals, there is no problem in using it in food products. But, if it is extracted from animal tissues, the permissibility of using it depends on the animal having been slaughtered Islamically. [If the origin is unknown, one can still use it.]

Adipic Acid: It is from vegetable origin. It can also be produced from chemicals. Therefore, there is no problem in using it in food products.Agar Agar: It comes from seaweed. It is used as a substitute for gelatin. Since it comes from vegetable origin, it is halãl.

Apocarotenal (C30) (E160e): It comes from orange. Sometimes it is used to melt gelatine or lard in water. If gelatine comes from an animal source (other than fish), it is not possible to use in food products.

Carmine / Cochineal (E120): It comes from insects and is used in coloring food items. It is halãl.Casein: Its source is milk; it is used in manufacturing cheese. It is precipitated by acid or by vegetable or animal enzymes. If vegetable enzymes were used in the precipitation, it is halãl; but if animal enzymes were used, then it cannot be considered halãl unless the animal was slaughtered Islamically or the process brought about a chemical transformation in casein.

Chocolate Liquor: This is a sweet liquid made from chocolate and used for its aroma. It is not the intoxicating or alcoholic drink known as “liquor;” and, therefore, there is no problem in using it.Bextrose (Corn Syrup): Its source is starch and is used as sweetner and colouring agent in food products. Since it comes from vegetable source, there is no problem in using it.

Carbon Black (E153): [It is used for black colouring in confectionery] and is extracted from bones, meat, wood, and plants. Since it can also be extracted from vegetable source, it is, in most cases, halãl. If it is extracted from an animal source, one cannot consider it halãl unless he can ascertain that the animal was slaughtered Islamically or that it went through a process of chemical change.

Lecithin (E322): It is made from egg yolk but on a commercial basis it is made from soybeans and is therefore halãl.Glycerine (E422) / Glyverol: Used as a solvent or humectant (maintains the desired level of moisture). It comes from beef fat or petroleum or vegetable. If it comes from chemical or vegetable source, it is halãl; but if it comes from animal source, it cannot be halãl, unless the animal was slaughtered Islamically or it went through the process of chemical transformation (istihalah).

Mono and Digylcerides: It comes from animal or vegetable source. If it comes from vegetable source, then it is halãl; if it comes from animal source, then it cannot be halãl unless the animal was slaughtered Islamically or it went through the process of chemical transformation.

Polyglycerol Easters of Fatty Acids (E476): Source: Fats and oils, animal or vegetable source. If they come from vegetable source, they are halãl; if they come from animal source, they cannot be halãl unless the animal was slaughtered Islamically or the acids went through the process of chemical change.

Monosodium Glutamate (E621): Source: Japaness seaweeds, sugar [plants, beets and corn]. It is used for enhancing flavor. It is halãl.Gelatine: Derived from vegetable or animal source. If it is from vegetable source, there is no problem. But if it is from animal that was not slaughtered Islamically, it is halãl in view of the late Grand Ayatullãh as-Sayyid al-Khû’í based on the chemical change (istahãlah) that it goes through.

As for the view of the Grand Ayatullãh as-Sayyid as-Sistãni, it is not halãl because he believes that in chemical change the original components should be completely eliminated.Guar Gum: It is used as stabilizer and thickener for spreads, syrup, etc. and is extracted from plants. It is therefore halãl.

Lactic Acid: It is made from corn, soybeans, or sugarcane; it can also be made from chemicals. It is halãl.Pectine: It is extracted from fruits and stems of plants. Commercially, it is made from apples and is used for thickening jellies. It is halãl.Pepsin: It comes from enzymes usually extracted from pig stomaches and is obviously harãm, unless it is chemically transformed into another substance.

Rennin (Rennet): Comes from animal enzymes usually derived from the membrane of the stomach of suckling calves. It can be made from vegetable enzymes or from a chemical source. It is halãl.Whey (in all forms): It comes from milk and is used as binder and flavouring agent. It is halãl.

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