In Islam, there are some restrictions on eating and drinking. The food or drink which is allowed in Islam is known as Halal Food and the food or drink which is prohibited in Islam is called Haram Food. Eating pork and drinking alcohol are prohibited in Islam and considered Haram.

Many Muslims around the globe avoid eating pork and drinking alcohol. Now, the pig is not only used for eating purposes but the skin of the pig is also used in cosmetics, soft drinks, medicines, and the processing of fast foods.

In 2004 a chemical introduce in the food market called E631. Many Muslim scholars around the world raise their concerns over this chemical as they say that this chemical is derived from pig meat and is haram in Islam. From that day, it becomes a hot topic of discussion whether E631 is halal or haram. This article will try to find out the answer to this question.

What is E631?

Disodium inosinate E631 is a disodium salt of inosinic acid with the formula C10H11N4Na2O8P. It is commonly found in instant noodles, potato chips, and a range of other foods as a food additive. Although it may be generated by bacterial fermentation of carbohydrates, it is frequently manufactured commercially using animal products.

Disodium inosinate is a flavor enhancer that works in conjunction with monosodium glutamate (MSG) to produce the umami flavor. It is frequently combined with disodium guanylate to form disodium 5′-ribonucleotides.

Because disodium inosinate is a relatively expensive product, it is usually not used independently of glutamic acid; if disodium inosinate appears in an ingredient list but MSG does not, glutamic acid may be provided as part of another ingredient or is naturally occurring in another ingredient, such as tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, or yeast extract.

Disodium inosinate is typically derived from meat, notably chicken. Though it is generally a non-vegetarian food, it may also be made from tapioca starch without the use of any animal products. When made from plant sources, the maker can include information about the origin, and it is sometimes designated as “vegetarian” in ingredient lists.

Is E631 Halal or Haram?

Now there is a debate on the halal or haram of E631. When this chemical was first introduced in the food market in 2004 as a food flavor it created a debate in Muslim World about whether this chemical is halal or haram.

Because this chemical can be derived from pig meat and by the yeast extract which is used for the fermentation of beer that is why this chemical is becoming controversial in the Muslim world.

The food companies like Lays, Kurkure, and Pepsi openly use this chemical in their chips and drinks as a starch and food flavoring. Many Muslim Scholars declare the E631 chemical haram because it is produced from pig meat and from yeast extraction which is used in the fermentation of beer. Both of these things are extremely prohibited in Islam and consider Haram.

After this, there was a movement that occurred in Muslim countries boycotting Pepsi and Lays as they used E631 as a food flavor. This, boycott among Muslim countries creates a huge loss for Pepsi and Lays Company as it is an international brand.

By the backlash from the Muslim world, Pepsi and Lays decide to make E631 from fish and some other plants because both the fish and some species of the plant contain glutamic acid which is the main ingredient of this chemical. Further research also shows that this chemical can also be derived from chicken.

Many Muslim Scholars said that if the production of E631 is done from fish and plants then it is halal. But if it is generated from pig meat or from yeast extraction which is used in the fermentation of beer then it will be considered haram.

By introducing the E631 which is generated from fish and plants in the food market, Muslim Countries allowed the production of Lays and Pepsi in their countries.

Now most Muslim countries including Gulf countries, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and other central Asian Muslim countries, use the  E631 which is generated from plants and fish in the production of Lays and Pepsi.

Use of E631 in the food industry:

E631 is used in many food products like lays, instant Maggie noodles, pizza sauce, Pepsi cola kurkure, Slanty, and many more.

● E631 in Lays:

It is used as starch in Lays, Kurkure, and Slanty chips. The Lays which are produced in Muslim countries contain E631 which is mostly a vegetarian-based chemical.

● E631 in instant noodles:

It is also used in seasoning instant noodles. Sometimes it is used to preserve the noodles after frying them.

● E631 in pizza or pizza sauce:

Pizza sauce is mainly made up of tomatoes and some starch. E631 is used as the starch which can preserve the tomatoes for long period. Tomatoes already contain glutamic acid which is the main ingredient of the E631 chemical.

Production of E631:

E631 can be generated in 3 ways:

  • It can be produced by sardines (fish).
  • It is possible to make it from brewer yeast extract, which is a byproduct of the beer-making process.
  • It is possible to extract it from pig flesh.
  • E631 can also be manufactured through a plant which is called tapioca. This is a form of starch that can be widely found in some species of plants. So it can be said that E631 can be vegan or non-vegan based on the manufacture of this product.

Some countries use plants for the manufacturing of E631 and some uses animal source for the production of this chemical.

Final Thoughts

This article sums up the issue of halal and haram of E631. As many Muslim scholars give their satisfaction over the production of E631 from the fish and plants and consider it halal. Anything which can be made from halal things is considered halal and anything which is made from haram things is considered haram according to Islamic law. The production source matters a lot and through the production source, it can be determined whether the product is halal or haram.  So this debate is quite resolved now about whether E631 is halal or haram.

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