Classification of Foods

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Halal

Halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law. The opposite of this word is haraam. Halal foods are foods that Muslims are allowed to eat under Islamic dietary guidelines. The criteria specify both what foods are allowed, and how the food must be prepared. The foods addressed are mostly types of meat/animal tissue. For Muslims the Halal or permissible items are:

Haram

For Muslims the Haram or impermissible items are:

Mashbooh

For all Muslims, this group of consumables consists of ingredients that are doubtful or questionable. E.g. Animal fat or proteins; Antioxidants; Dairy products; Emulsifiers; Enzymes; Flavorings; Gelatin; Glycerin and Vitamins. All these items are derived either from animal, plant, microbial or synthetic sources. If it comes from an animal source, then we need to know if the animal was halal and if so, was it slaughtered properly or not. If yes or if the source is plant or certified-microbial then we can eat it.

Responsibility of a Muslim Consumer

It is every Muslim consumer's responsibility to be conscientious of what he/she does, whether it be the consumption of food, nutritional supplements, pharmaceuticals or cosmetics items, and to please ALLAH (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) by following HIS commandments. We should:

Be familiar with different types of ingredients

Simple or Single Complex or Compound
Salt Sugar Batters Breadings
Flour Water Colorings Flavorings
Honey Vinegar Cheese Powder Enriched Flour
Ascorbic Acid Aspartame Enrichment Mix Seasonings
Benzoate Gelatin Shortenings Spices
L-Cysteine Onion Powder Vitamin Mix
Phosphate Propionic Acid

Know hidden ingredients in common foods

Ingredient Food
Liquor Chocolate
Gelatin Ice Cream and Pharmaceuticals
Lard Maple Syrup
Pan Grease/Lard Bread/Baked Goods
Polysorbates Dairy Products
LPork Lipase Cheese
Stearates Chewing Gum

As a Halal consumer, I should be aware of ingredients by function

Function Ingredient
Antioxidants BHA, BHT, Ascorbic Acid
Acidulates Citric Acid, Carbonic Acid
Colorings Blue, Red, Yellow 5,6 etc.
Emulsifiers Lecithin, Mono Di-Glycerides
Flavorings Artificial/Natural Flavors, Spices
Flavor Enhancers Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Fortifiers Thiamine, Vitamin A & D
Preservatives Benzoic Acid, Propionic Acid
Stabilizers Alginate, Gelatin, Phosphates
Supplements Amino Acids, Minerals, Vitamins
Sweeteners Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose

Common foods that may be a concern

Products Examples of Mashbooh (Doubtful) Ingredients
Bread Lecithin, Mono/Diglycerides
Bagels Cysteine hydrochloride, Enzymes, Folic acid, Niacin
Candy Glycerin, Gelatin, Mono Glycerides, Whey, Natural & Artificial flavors, Stearic acid, Magnesium Stearate
Cereals Artificial/Natural flavors, Vitamin A, B2, C, D
Chips Cheese
Cookies Folic acid, Thiamine
Granola Bars Flavorings
Coffee Creamer Artificial/Natural flavors, Mono/Diglycerides
Cakes Artificial/Natural flavors, Mono/Diglycerides
Donuts/Pastries Mono/Diglycerides, Flavors, Lard
Ice Cream Whey, Artificial flavor, Mono/Diglycerides
Jell-O/Puddings Gelatin, Artificial/Natural flavors
Cheese Enzymes
Shortenings Animal fat, Mono/Diglycerides
Peanut Butter Mono/Diglycerides
Colas Natural flavors
Ketchups Natural flavors
Yogurts Flavors, Gelatin, Whey
Gums Glycerin, Stearic acid
Mouth Wash Alcohol, Flavors, Glycerin
Nutritional Supplements Gelatin, Magnesium Stearate
Soaps Sodium Tallowate, Glycerin
Toothpaste Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

E-numbers that may be a concern

  • E-304
  • E-322
  • E-422
  • E-431
  • E-432
  • E-433
  • E-434
  • E-435
  • E-436
  • E-442
  • E-445
  • E-470a
  • E-470b
  • E-471
  • E-472a
  • E-472b
  • E-472c
  • E-472d
  • E-472e
  • E-472f
  • E-473
  • E-474
  • E-475
  • E-476
  • E-477
  • E-479
  • E-481
  • E-482
  • E-483
  • E-491
  • E-492
  • E-493
  • E-494
  • E-495
  • E-570

Concern about the process and source

FAQ

What are the ingredients?

There are various kinds of ingredients found on the labels of products we buy. Some of them are simple or single components, like salt, sugar and water. Others are complex or compound, such as colorings, cheese powder, flavorings, seasonings, shortening, spices etc. On some labels we see the ingredients are listed by their functions, such as antioxidants; emulsifiers; preservatives; supplements and thickeners to name a few. Sometimes the questionable ingredients such as alcohol; enzymes; fats and gelatin are not clearly listed but are hidden in flavorings; cheese, gums and ice cream. As Muslims we should know if the ingredients we see on the label are Halal, since they could be obtained from animal, plant, microbial, or synthetic sources. A list of such items is given below for a quick reference and can be copied and carried along for shopping convenience.

Can Muslims consume food prepared by non-Muslims?

It is a religious obligation for all Muslims to consume only food that is Halal. Muslims can consume food that is prepared and/or sold by non-Muslims as long as they are Halal.

What is Halal Certified Products?

'Halal-certified' refers to products which have been endorsed as Halal by a credible Islamic body (third-party certification). Often times, Halal certification involves a series of steps including ingredient verification, inspection/audit and approval by committee. In general, all Halal-certified products are Halal, but not all Halal products are Halal-certified.

May I eat the food served on airlines?

Airlines offer a variety of meal choices to meet passenger needs. There are low-salt meals, vegetarian meals, seafood meals and others. Some airlines even offer Muslim meals. In general, the Muslim meals are not certified by a qualified halal certifying agency. This means it is not known if the meat and other ingredients are derived from Zabiha animals and are free of pork products and alcohol. Airlines will provide certified halal meals when they see sufficient demand to justify it. Every Muslim traveler should request a halal meal and, if unavailable, the traveler should make sure the request is recorded so it can be considered by the airline in the future. Ask for a letter from the head of the food service section in response to your request for a halal meal. That way, you can be sure your request has reached the decision-maker. After registering your request, you may have to opt for the seafood or vegetarian meal. Don't be surprised by ordering a kosher meal, only to find it has been prepared in wine.

Is chocolate liquor Haram?

Chocolate liquor is a sweet syrup containing chocolate, sugar and other ingredients. It is used in making candy, drinks and other chocolate-flavored products. It does not contain any alcohol, so it is not haram.

Isn't all cheese Halal?

The production of cheese requires the use of enzymes to coagulate or curdle the milk and the addition of other ingredients for various functions. The enzymes can be derived from animal, vegetable, or microbial sources. The animal sources include pigs and cattle. The enzyme derived from pigs is called pepsin and is haram. Another enzyme derived from pigs or small cattle is lipase. (Lipase can also be made by microorganisms, which is halal.) One of the enzymes derived from the inner lining of the fourth stomach of calves is called rennet. It may come from Zabiha calves or non-Zabiha calves. The enzyme can also be produced by microbial methods. Microbial enzymes are not derived from meat and are halal.

Rennet is a crude preparation containing dried, ground linings of the calf stomach. The active enzyme is called chymosin. Today, purified chymosin is also manufactured through genetic modifications of microorganisms when the chymosin gene from a calf is duplicated and inserted into microbial cells. Calf rennet is still used by specialty cheese manufacturers. Moreover, pig enzymes, such as lipase, are still used in high flavor, ripened cheeses, like romano. Today, most cheeses in the North American markets are questionable. However, IFANCA has certified some specialty cheeses.

Most cheese products do not list the source of the enzyme, so one must ask the producer from where the enzyme comes. Of course, it is possible the source will change without notification.

Finally, cheese products may contain many other ingredients, each of which must also be examined.

And ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, knows best.The production of cheese requires the use of enzymes to coagulate or curdle the milk and the addition of other ingredients for various functions. The enzymes can be derived from animal, vegetable, or microbial sources. The animal sources include pigs and cattle. The enzyme derived from pigs is called pepsin and is haram. Another enzyme derived from pigs or small cattle is lipase. (Lipase can also be made by microorganisms, which is halal.)

One of the enzymes derived from the inner lining of the fourth stomach of calves is called rennet. It may come from Zabiha calves or non-Zabiha calves. The enzyme can also be produced by microbial methods. Microbial enzymes are not derived from meat and are halal.

Rennet is a crude preparation containing dried, ground linings of the calf stomach. The active enzyme is called chymosin. Today, purified chymosin is also manufactured through genetic modifications of microorganisms when the chymosin gene from a calf is duplicated and inserted into microbial cells. Calf rennet is still used by specialty cheese manufacturers. Moreover, pig enzymes, such as lipase, are still used in high flavor, ripened cheeses, like romano. Today, most cheeses in the North American markets are questionable. However, IFANCA has certified some specialty cheeses.

Most cheese products do not list the source of the enzyme, so one must ask the producer from where the enzyme comes. Of course, it is possible the source will change without notification.

Finally, cheese products may contain many other ingredients, each of which must also be examined.

Is Kosher meat Halal?

It is not Halal.

May We Eat Gelatin?

Gelatin is a protein product obtained from the collagen of vertebrates, including pigs, cattle and fish. It is recovered by hydrolysis. The main raw materials used today are pigskins, cattle bones and cattle hide. Of these, the most common source is pigskins.

Gelatin is used in the preparation of baked goods, ice cream, yogurt, jellies and gelatin Jell-OTM. It is also used in the medical and pharmaceutical industry. Gelatin has other non-food uses, such as photographic film and carbonless paper.

If the word gelatin appears on a label without reference to its source, it is generally derived from pig skins and cattle bones, so it must be avoided.

It is possible to produce halal gelatin by using the bones and hides of halal slaughtered cattle. In such a case, the gelatin would be certified halal and labeled as halal gelatin. IFANCA-certified halal gelatin made from fish bones or halal slaughtered cattle is now available for the food and pharmaceutical industry.

Is Lecithin Halal?

Lecithin is an emulsifier. It is found in plants such as soybeans, in egg yolks and in other animal sources. As discussed below, emulsifiers are compounds used to keep oils or fats and water dispersed in one phase (i.e., they prevent oil and water from separating).

If the lecithin is derived from plants, egg yolks or halal animals slaughtered according to Islamic law, it is Halal. Otherwise it is not. While most lecithin produced in the USA is currently derived from soybeans, it is still possible it might come from animal sources.

Unless the ingredient label says soya lecithin or vegetable lecithin, you need to check with the producer to determine the source.

Are Mono- And Diglycerides Halal?

Mono and di-glycerides are fatty substances that are used as emulsifiers. Emulsifiers are compounds used to keep oils or fats and water dispersed in one phase (i.e., they prevent oil and water from separating).

Mono and di-glycerides can be derived from animal or vegetable sources. When derived from vegetable sources, they are halal. When derived from animal sources, they are questionable. More information is required to determine if they are halal.

Halal consumers should avoid products containing mono- and diglycerides unless they are labeled as 100% vegetable mono- and diglycerides. Mono- and diglycerides are used in a wide variety of products, including baked goods, peanut butter, margarine, shortening, and other products.