Cochineal is a parasitic insect that lives on cacti. It derives sap from cacti and is found in North and South America. The natural red dye carmine or carminic acid is derived from this parasitic insect and is widely used in textiles, drugs, and cosmetic industries.
Besides these industries, natural dye is also an integral part of processing food items like jellies, juices, soft drinks, yogurt, and many more. In recent times, demand for natural dyes keep increasing drastically, leading to more harvest of these tiny parasites, and sales throughout the globe.
As many cosmetics and innumerable processed food items now include carmine natural dye, it is worth pondering to know if this natural dye is halal or haram. You will get to know about the halal or haram nature of carmine in this blog.
How To Make Carmine
To obtain carmine, the insects harvest on their host (cacti) and rub off the plant after which they dry out in the sun. After drying, grind the bugs to powder. Then, mix the powder with a carrier (usually water). It gives out its beautiful red color.
Foods Containing Carmine
Asides from using carmine in textile, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics, the dye is also present in a range of food items like:
- Soft drinks
- Dairy products
- Meat products
- Alcoholic drinks
- Canned Soups
Islamic Injunction about Halal and Haram
According to the teachings of the Holy Quran, carrion, i.e. dead meat, the blood, and swine (pig) meat, are haram. Also, if any halal animal is slaughtered and dedicated to other than Allah, it is haram. Besides, the blood of halal animals is haram.
Also, the Islam culture prohibits Muslims from eating insects (with the exception of locusts) and reptiles. According to the 157 verse of Surah Al-Ar’af, Muslims can’t partake in impure and bad things.
“Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper.” (Surah7 verse 157.)
According to Islamic Shariah, insects can’t be consumed, and therefore cochineal or any of its extract is also not permissible to eat. (Source: https://islamqa.org/hanafi/fatwa-tt/134340/what-is-the-ruling-of-carmine-e-120/)
Is Carmine Halal or Haram?
Carmine is a cochineal extract, and cochineal is an insect. In Islamic law, Muslims consider insects impure and are therefore haram. So, carmine dye is also haram.
Many food manufacturers will not tell you directly whether their products contain cochineal. They use other names for this red cochineal dye. Therefore, it would be best to look out for the following names in your food or cosmetic product as this nomenclature often indicates cochineal.
– Natural Red 4
– Cochineal Extracts
– Carminic Acid
If your food or any other ingredient label has any of the above-mentioned terms, it is cochineal and haram.
According to some Islamic schools of thought, if carmine is present in a product for external use like body lotion, it is halal to apply. However, all the Islamic scholars agree that Muslims must avoid lipsticks containing carmine or cochineal because there is a chance of ingesting lipstick with water.
Over to You
Holy Quran and Sunnah are the two primary sources of guidance for all of the Muslim populace. In light of the Quran and Sunnah, insects are haram, and therefore, cochineal or carmine is also haram.
There are many pharma and cosmetic products that have carmine. If you need any guidance about using such items, you must consult an established Islamic scholar of your school of thought who can make an informed decision based on the teachings of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah.