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Which sweets are halal? An explanation & list

Which sweets are halal? An explanation & list

As a Muslim in Germany one is often faced with the challenge of whether the sweets are halal - i.e. permitted under Islamic law - or not. This article explains clearly which food additives in sweets are forbidden (haram) for Muslims. At the end of this article you will find a list of brands of sweets that Muslims may consume without hesitation.

Basically it has to be said that in Islam everything is allowed (halal) that is not explicitly forbidden (haram). What are ingredients in sweets, which are explicitly forbidden and therefore not allowed to be eaten by Muslims? A list:

  • Pork gelatine
  • Carmine (E120)
  • Shellac (E940)
  • Cysteine (E920/921)
  • Ethanol Alcohol
  • cross-contamination

Pork gelatine - the binding agent for sweets

Gelatine is used in the production of sweets to gel and achieve a certain texture and as a binding agent. Gelatine is produced by boiling bones, skins, vision, cartilage and ligaments of animals. In Europe, 80 % of gelatine in food comes from pigs and thus finds its way into sweets. This is problematic for Muslims, since the Koran expressly forbids the consumption of pigs. Sura 5, verse 3, says:

"Forbidden to you is the enjoyment of the dead, of blood, of pork, and of that over which a name other than Allah has been invoked, and the enjoyment of the strangled, the slain, the fallen to death, or the cast out, and of that which has been torn by a wild beast - ..." (The LORD 2:3) 


Alternatively, beef gelatine can be used in sweets. However, beef gelatine is only suitable for Muslims if the gelatine comes from a cattle slaughtered according to Islamic standards.

Another alternative is sweets completely without gelatine. Why vegan sweets don't have to be halal is described in this article.

Carmine (E120) - the dye from lice

Karmin ist ein Lebensmittelzusatzstoff und wird durch das Austrocknen und Kochen von Läusen gewonnen. Die dafür benutzten weiblichen Läuse kommen aus Mittelamerika und werden Cochenille-Schildläuse genannt. Karmin wird bei Süßigkeiten als roter Farbstoff verwendet. Dabei ist zu erwähnen, dass Karmin der einzige Farbstoff tierischen Ursprungs ist. Karmin wird anderweitig auch „Echtes Karmin“, Karminsäure oder Cochenille genannt. Es ist unter den Gelehrten umstritten, ob Karmin halal oder haram ist. Aufgrund der ungeklärten Frage und der damit verbundenen Unsicherheit lehnen wir den Verzehr von Karmin ab.

Shellac (E904) - the excrement of the paint scale insect

Shellac is an excrement from the scale insect that occurs in Central America. The consistency of shellac is reminiscent of resin. The female lacquer scale aphid feeds and fills with the sap of trees and plants. This sap changes into lacquer in the body of the louse. From this lacquer the louse forms a shell for its eggs until the young hatch out of the egg and drill themselves out of the lacquer layer. The excretion of the louse, called shellac, is scratched by the trees, boiled up and processed into the food additive E904 shellac. Shellac (E904) is used in sweets as a coating agent to enable shining and binding.
The classification of shellac as haram or halal is controversial among scholars. The scholars, who classify shellac as haram, justify this with the prohibition of the consumption of excrements.

Again other scholars classify shellac as halal. Thus the scholars of Al-Azhar University in Cairo say that the extraction of shellac is similar to the extraction of honey, where the juice of the bee is converted into honey.

Cysteine (E920/E921) - sometimes removes 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 required for cysteine can be obtained from horns, feathers, hair or pig bristles. The EU has banned the use of human hair for the production of keratin or cysteine in 2011.

Cysteine is used to break up the gluten contained in flour. This makes it easier to knead the dough. In addition, 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, you should ask the manufacturer more precisely about the production if cytein (E920/E921) is indicated in the table of contents.

Ethanol - Alcohol in flavour  

In the food industry, flavourings are used to give foods such as sweets a certain aroma or taste. These aromas often contain ethanol or alcohol as a carrier.

Cross-contamination - the contamination 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 cross-contamination is present. Cross-contamination means that sweets can be produced in industrial plants where non-halal products (e.g. containing pigs) are also produced. Here a transfer of "non-halalal" traces to the sweets takes place, whereby the sweets cannot be classified as "halal".

Halal Sweets List - selected brands

Enclosed we list sweets brands which meet the Halal criteria:
  • Haribo Halal
  • sweet zone
  • Bebeto
  • ciloglu
  • sweet zone
  • capico
  • jellopy
Here you can buy halal sweets. 

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