Most consumers, especially children, are generally more interested in foods with bright and attractive colors.
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One of the food colorings we see the most is undoubtedly the red color, which usually comes from the natural dye Carmine extracted from the body of the Cochineal insect.
Is it Halal or Haram?
Carmine is Partially Halal.
The natural coloring Carmine, usually written with the code E120, is found in many drinks, children’s candies, snacks, sauces, meat, yogurt, and cosmetics such as eyeshadow and shampoo.
The following is an explanation regarding the halal status of Carmine dye which Muslim consumers widely question.
- Fatwa by Mufti Arshad Ali – Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)
To understand the halal status of Carmine dye, we need to know the source first. The natural coloring agent Carmine is extracted from the liquid of the Cochineal insect carcass, not the blood, because these insects are bloodless.
Some fiqh experts allow and forbid the use of insects as food coloring or cosmetics.
According to the views of Imam Syafii and Abu Hanifah, the use of insects for consumption is haram (unlawful). Because they are khabaits (disgusting animals). (Quran Surah Al A’raf Verse 157) So from the opinion of the Imam of this school, food products, medicines, and cosmetics that use dyes from Cochineal insects are haram for consumption by Muslims.
However, the Imams of other madhhabs stipulate different laws because of their respective foundations and views.
In the book of fiqh, the insect is called Hasyarat. Some of these animals have flowing blood (Laha damun sailun), and some have no blood flowing (Laisa laha damun sailun). Scholars agree that the carcass of an insect whose blood flows is unclean, while the corpse whose blood does not flow is considered lawful.
Based on these considerations, Imam Malik, Ibn Abi Layla, and Auza’i agreed that insects are halal as long as they are not harmful. This is also supported by (the Quran Surah Al-Ma’idah verse 88). So thus, Cochineal, an insect that is harmless and does not have flowing blood, can be categorized as a source of halal food coloring, and it is permissible for Muslims to consume food that contains it.
While other scholars, such as Hanafi scholars, argue that some insects belonging to the locust and grasshopper species can be eaten because Prophet Muhammad was known to have consumed locusts or grasshoppers on the battlefield.
Is It Safe For Muslim to Eat It?
The choice to consume foodstuffs containing Carmine coloring matter comes back to each individual’s choice. For those of you who follow the views of scholars who allow Carmine dye, food products with it are safe for you to consume.
The opposite also applies to those of you who follow the views of scholars who forbid the coloring substance Carmine, so food products containing it are unsafe for you to consume.
Any views regarding the halal status of insects as food coloring agents are, of course, based on their respective considerations and reasons.
Consider which view you will follow because the decision to consume food with Carmine coloring returns to each of you.
The choice for those still unsure about coloring agents with other natural ingredients, such as peppers and tomatoes, also produces a bright red color.
Got a question? Feel free to ask mufti and get quick answers.