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LPPOM MUI

The Law of Food Coloring Agents From Insects

Question

Assalamu’alaykum warahmatullah

The development of science and technology today is taking place very quickly, including in the field of food. So that the ingredients that were not originally expected, can now even be used for consumption materials. Includes coloring agents for food from insects.

About this, I got information from a colleague who works in the food processing industry, there is a kind of insect that he said is from the South American region and Mexico, can be used as a source of coloring agents for food products, medicines and cosmetics. So I want to ask, is it legal to utilize and use those insect animals for the foodstuffs we consume?

Thus the question from us and for the answer given we thank you as much as possible.

Wassalam

Hendri

Bekasi Industrial Estate

Answer:

After communicating with LPPOM MUI about this, we got an explanation, the insect in question is Cochineal which is indeed widely found in the South American and Mexican regions. This animal produces Carminic Acid up to 17-24% of its body weight which can be extracted and made carmine dyes for consumption products.

In the opinion of Madzhab Shafi’i, the use of insects for legal consumption is haram. Thus, dyestuffs taken and made from illegitimate ones, then the law is illegitimate as well. So from the opinion of Imam Madzhab, food products, medicines and cosmetics that use coloring agents from Cochineal are also illegitimate to be consumed by the people.

The other Imams of the madzhab, however, established different laws, because of their respective foundations and reviews. In the books of Fiqh, the insect is called Hashim. Some of these beasts have blood flowing (Laha damun sailun), and some whose blood does not flow (Laisa laha damun sailun). According to the Fuqohas (fiqh experts), insects whose blood flows, then whose carcasses are unclean, while those whose blood does not flow, the carcasses are declared sacred.

In the view of Imam Shafi’i and Abu Hanifah, the insect is illegitimate. For it belongs to Khabaits (disgusting animals), in line with the content of the verse which means: “… And he (Rosul) forbids the khabaits/disgusting.” (Q.S. 7:157).

As for Imam Malik, Ibn Abi Layla and Auza’i argued, insects are kosher as long as they do no harm. And Cochineal is a type of insect that does no harm, it can even be used as a source of food coloring agents. That means that this animal contains good ingredients. In this regard, it is worth noting the instructions of the Quran:

“And eat kosher food again good from that which Allah has given you, and be devoted to God and you have faith in him.” (Q.S. 5: 88).

Also the meaning of the verse: “… and justify for them all that is good and forbids them all that is bad.” (Q.S. 7: 157).

With this understanding, there is a Fiqh rule that states: “Al-ashlu fil-manafi’ al-ibahah”. That is to say: The law of origin of all that is useful is mubah/may or lawful.

In addition, there is also an opinion that scholars view and qiyashkan (analogize), this insect belongs to a type of grasshopper. And the Fuqohas have agreed that the locust law is halal based on the provisions of the Hadith of the Prophet saw. Even the carcass can be eaten.

Thus, according to the views of these Imams, the dyestuffs produced from Cochineal are legally halal, so they can be used to dye consumer products. The Fiqh scholars also agreed, the carcasses of insects whose blood does not flow are sacred. Thus, the utilization of such Cochineal insects is definitely no problem.

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