What candy is halal? An explanation & list
As a Muslim in Germany you are often faced with the challenge of whether the sweets are halal - i.e. permitted under Islamic law - or not. This article explains in an understandable way which food additives in the sweets are prohibited (haram) for Muslims. Thus, parents can find out which sweets Muslim children are allowed to eat, for example, to celebrate a birthday. At the end of this article you will find a list of candy brands that can be consumed by Muslims without hesitation.
Basically it can be said that in Islam everything is allowed (halal) that is not explicitly forbidden (haram). What are ingredients in sweets that are explicitly forbidden and therefore Muslims are not allowed to consume? A list:
- Porcine gelatine
- Carmine (E120)
- Shellac (E904)
- cysteine (E920/921)
- Ethanol Alcohol
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Pork gelatine - the binder for sweets
Gelatine is used in the production of sweets to gel and achieve a specific texture and as a binding agent. Gelatine is produced by boiling out bones, skins, eyesight, cartilage and ligaments of animals. In Europe, 80% of edible gelatine comes from pigs and thus finds its way into sweets. This is problematic for Muslims, as the Koran explicitly prohibits the consumption of pork. In Sura 5, verse it says:
"It is forbidden for you to eat the dead, blood, pork, or anything on which a person other than Allah has been invoked, or anything that has been strangled, slain, fallen to death, or pushed, or torn by a wild animal...
Alternatively, beef gelatine can be used in sweets. However, bovine gelatine is only suitable for Muslims if the gelatine comes from cattle slaughtered according to Islamic specifications.
Another alternative is sweets completely without gelatine. In this article we describe why vegan sweets do not have to be halal.
Carmine (E120) - the dye from lice
Carmine is a food additive and is obtained by drying and cooking lice. The female lice used for this purpose come from Central America and are called cochineal scale insects. Carmine is used in sweets as a red pigment. It is worth mentioning that carmine is the only colouring agent of animal origin. Carmine is also called "real carmine", carminic acid or cochineal. It is disputed among scholars whether carmine is halal or haram. Because of the unresolved question and the uncertainty associated with it, we refuse to eat carmine.
Shellac (E904) - the excrement of the scale insect
Shellac is an excrement of the varnish scale insect, which occurs in Central America. The consistency of shellac is reminiscent of resin. The female varnish scale insect feeds and replenishes itself with the sap of the trees and plants. This sap changes in the body of the louse to lacquer. From this lacquer, the louse forms a protective shell for its eggs until the young hatch out of the egg and bore their way out of the lacquer layer. The excretion of the louse, called shellac, is scraped from the trees, boiled up and processed into the food additive E904 shellac. Shellac (E904) is used in sweets as a coating agent to make them shiny and bind.
The classification of shellac as haram or halal is controversial among scholars. The scholars who classify shellac as haram, justify this by the prohibition of the consumption of excrements.
Again other scholars classify shellac as halal. Thus, scholars at Al-Azhar University in Cairo say that the extraction of shellac is similar to the extraction of honey, where the sap of the bee is transformed into honey.
Cysteine (E920/E921) - sometimes contains pig bristles
Cysteine is a food additive and is often called cystine, L-cysteine or L-cystine. Cysteine can be obtained synthetically or from keratin. The keratin needed for cysteine can be obtained from horns, feathers, hair or pig bristles. The EU has banned the use of human hair for the extraction of keratin or cysteine in 2011.
Cysteine is used to break down the gluten contained in flour. This makes the dough easier to knead. It also means that the dough does not stick to the machines and production is faster. Cysteine can therefore be found in bread, rolls and various pasta products. Since cysteine does not necessarily always have to contain pig bristles, the manufacturer should be asked more precisely about the production process if cytein (E920/E921) is specified in the table of contents.
Ethanol - alcohol in the aroma
In order to give foods such as sweets a certain smell or taste, the food industry uses aromas. These flavours often contain ethanol or alcohol as a carrier.
Cross-contamination - the contamination caused by mixing of traces
Even if sweets do not contain any of the above ingredients, there is a risk that the sweets will not be considered halal if there is cross-contamination. In case of cross-contamination, sweets may be produced in industrial plants where non-halalal products (containing e.g. pigs) are also produced. In this case there is a transfer of "non-halal" traces to the sweets, which means that the sweets cannot be classified as "halal".
Here you can buy halal sweets.