Red food coloring E120 is made from insects and is used in food and it is Haram consumed by Muslims. Many different foods have this component. Most Muslims in the UK have stopped consuming Skittles after E120 was recently introduced as the gelatin-free variety made there.

This material is most frequently referred to on ingredient labels as E120, however, it may alternatively be listed as cochineal or carmine (dye).

What Is E120?

The coloring pigment E120, also known as cochineal, carmine, and carminic acid, is made from the carcasses, eggs, and shells of a female insect known as “Dactylopius coccus costa” or “coccus cacti,” which lives on the spiny cactus plant “opuntia ficus” and is found in places like Mexico, the Canary Islands, Bolivia, Chile, and Peru.

The bug, eggs, and shells are boiled first, then chemically treated, dried, and ground. In addition to being submerged in hot water and dried afterward, the insects can also be killed by sunlight, steam, or oven heat.

Each technique yields a distinct color, giving commercial cochineal a distinctive appearance. Before the insects may be stored without decomposing, they must be dried to roughly 30% of their original body weight. About 155,000 insects are required to produce one kilogram of cochineal.

Is E120 Halal?

When insects are included on product labels, it is generally done so under a more agreeable heading like “natural coloring.”

Consequently, it is haram to ingest any items that contain carmine. Its use is prohibited in cosmetic goods like lipstick, where there is a high risk of ingestion.

It is acceptable to use carmine-containing items externally, such as shampoos, etc.

Most Shari’ah scholars agree that it is forbidden to eat insects because it violates the Quranic passage that reads, “He (Allah Ta’ala) permits pure substances for them and bans filthy substances unto them.” (Verse 157 of Surah 7).

Methods Of E120 Cultivation

There are two main types of cochineal dye: cochineal extract, which is colored using the raw, dried, and ground bodies of insects, and carmine, which is colored using a more refined process.

The powdered insect bodies are boiled in ammonia or a sodium carbonate solution, the soluble material is filtered out, and then alum is added to the clear carminic acid salt solution to precipitate the red aluminum salt. This process is used to make a carmine. The absence of iron ensures color purity.

Allah Most High says:

Islamic Ruling Regarding Consumption Of E120

According to Islamic law, any creature that does not contain blood such as a hornet, fly, spider, beetle, scorpion, or ant is prohibited.

As Allah said:

“for he (the Prophet) 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)” (Surah al-A’raf, V: 157)

As a result, animals like spiders and others that don’t possess blood are regarded as coming from “what is impure” because a decent person would abhor eating them.

Products E120 Is Used In

Nowadays E120 is being utilized in several food products, including:

  • frozen fish and meat products.
  • pharmaceuticals, including vitamins, cough syrup, ointments, and colored pills.
  • drinks with powder, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and soft drinks.
  • lipsticks, face powders, rouges, blushes, and other cosmetics, as well as hair- and skin-care items.
  • Ice cream, yogurt, and other dairy products.
  • jams and canned fruits like cherries.
  • soups in cans and on the shelf.
  • spices and sauces.
  • Sweets, syrups, fillings, and gum.


The coloring agent E120 is impermissible for Muslims to consume through any means. Hence products containing E120 should also not be consumed.

Read more about E341 Halal or Haram?

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