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Assalamu'alaikum, I've been told that some baked goods (e.g. bread) contain questionable ingredients, so Muslims should avoid consuming them. These ingredients are: Mono Diglycerides Sodium Stearyol 2 Lactylate Diacetyl Esters of Tartaric Acid L-Cysteine. Please shed light on whether these ingredients should avoided.

Assalamu Alaikum,

(Answered by Shaykh Abdurrahmann Murad) 

May Allah bless you. The issue of Halal and Haram is an ongoing issue and as time progresses I believe that this will become more of an issue of contention. The real problem lies with how many people are ready to issue Fatawa on this topic! There are numerous Apps on all platforms that readily offer guidance as to what is Halal and what is Haram, but the opinions presented in those Apps are often baseless and without merit! Allah, the Exalted, says: “Do not falsely declare, "This is lawful, and this is forbidden," so as to invent a lie against God. Surely, those who invent a lie against God do not prosper.” (An-Nahl 116)

Before I look at these food items, it must be known that the guidelines that govern what is Halal and what is Haram have been given to us within Shari’ah. These matters are not left to one’s discretion to pick and choose as they like.

First Food Additive: Mono-glyceride.

A monoglyceride, more correctly known as a monoacylglycerol, is a glyceride consisting of one fatty acid chain covalently bonded to a glycerol molecule through an ester linkage.

In this definition, we have two terms that stand out, ‘glycerides’ and ‘esters’. We have to define both as well:

Glycerides: Vegetable oils and animal fats contain mostly triglycerides, but are broken down by natural enzymes (lipases) into mono and diglycerides and free fatty acids.

Esters: Chemical compounds consisting of a carbonyl adjacent to an ether linkage. They are derived by reacting an oxoacid with a hydroxyl compound such as an alcohol or phenol. Esters are usually derived from an inorganic acid or organic acid in which at least one -OH (hydroxyl) group is replaced by an -O-alkyl (alkoxy) group, and most commonly from carboxylic acids and alcohols. That is, esters are formed by condensing an acid with an alcohol.

With this, we can see that there is a definite chemical change. When an item, even one from an outright Haram, is transformed chemically; it would become Halal. This process is known as Istihalah. If an item goes through this process, it would become Halal. As well, nowadays, the majority of monoglycerides are synthesized chemically and are vegan friendly.

Second Food Additive: Sodium Stearyol 2 Lactylate:

A mixture of sodium salts of stearoyl lactylic acids and minor proportions of other salts of related acids, formed by the esterification of commercial stearic acid with lactic acid and neutralized to the sodium salts; may contain unneutralized palmitoyl and stearoyl lactylic acid, free fatty acids (principally palmitic and stearic).

CSL is currently manufactured by the esterification of stearic acid and lactic acid with partial neutralization using food-grade hydrated lime

With this, we can see that there is a definite chemical change; thus, it would become Halal.

Third Food Additive: Diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglyceride.

It is also known as DATEM; it is comprised of tartaric acid, which is a natural acid found in some fruits, and monoglycerides, which are processed fats from vegetable or animal sources.

DATEM is synthesized by reacting tartaric acid with acetic acid to produce acetylated tartaric acid, which is then reacted with monoglycerides, forming ester bonds. It is a synthesized as a liquid which is added to breads to soften them.

With this, we can see that there is a definite chemical change; thus, it would become Halal.

Fourth Food Additive: L-Cysteine

Fact: Most of the hair used to make L-cysteine is gathered from the floors of barbershops and hair salons in China.

Source: http://www.naturalnews.com/032718_L-cysteine_commercial_bread.html

In relation to this food additive, I found some respected Sheikhs have already spoken on it:

If the product in question is abstracted from human hair, then it is forbidden, because using human hair is unlawful.

1. Imam Mansoor Al-Bahooty, may Allah have mercy on him, said in Sharh Al-Muntaha (a Hanbali Fiqh book): 'It is forbidden to consume human hair.'

2. Imam Ibn Nujaym,  may  Allah  have  mercy on  him,  said in Al-Bahr Al-Raiq (a Hanafi book) while talking about a human tooth: 'It is forbidden to benefit from it, out of respect to the human being himself. The same rule applies to the eating wheat that is ground with a human being's tooth as it is unlawful to eat the bread made of its flour, not because of its impurity, but rather to honour human beings.'

3. Imam An-Nawawi said in Al-Majmoo' (A Shaafi'ee book) 'It is forbidden to benefit from human hair and all his other parts (of the body) for his dignity, instead this hair should be buried.'

In light of the above, it would be best to avoid consuming products that contain this food additive.

Jazaak Allah Khairan