Alcohol Flavourings and Vanilla Extracts Clarification

Published: 2006-12-06

We are receiving many queries on our stance on alcoholic flavorings and extracts.  Here is the full explanation:

Views: 4,211,696
Updated: 2013-04-24

Alcohol in Flavourings

Most food products nowadays contain some type of flavouring - natural, artificial, or a combination of both.   Many of these flavourings contain alcohol, which is used as a carrier or solvent for the flavouring.


The actual amount of alcohol in the finished food product may vary, but it is usually around 0.5% or less, as the alcohol evaporates during the production process.  Items such as drinks and ice creams can contain a bit more, since no evaporation takes place.  Such a small amount of alcohol is not required to be declared on the ingredients declaration on the packaging of the product.


The Foodguide follows the opinion of major contemporary Hanafi scholars including the venerable Mufti Yusuf Sacha of the UK (highly acclaimed foods expert) and Mufti Ashraf Usmani of Pakistan.   The fatwa in our times is that synthetic alcohols (and all alcohol not sourced from dates and grapes) in foods and otherwise is pure (tahir), and permitted to use and consume on the conditions that:


(a) it is not used as an intoxicant;

(b) it is not used as intoxicants are used (i.e. for alcoholic consumption, even a little);

(c) it is not used in an amount that intoxicates;

(d) it is not used in vain (lahw).


Courtesy: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


This verdict applies to alcoholic flavourings only (based on need and necessity and common predicament) and not where alcohol is added as an ingredient in a product.  In that case, regardless what the source of the alcohol is, it is not permissible.


The verdict of many contemporary 'Ulama is based on sources of Hadith which infer that alcohol from dates and grapes are regarded as Khamr (intoxicants categorically mentioned in the Qur'aan), and that other alcohols will not be termed as ‘khamr’ in the technical sense and thus not impure.


The Hadith from Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmizi, Nasai, Ibn Majah says that Rasulullah Sallallahu Alaihe Wasallam said:


Khamr is from these two trees: dates and grapes".

(I'laus sunan Vol.18 Pg.26)


This is the view propounded by the Foodguide service and rest assured that it is of sound Hanafi scholarship.


Nevertheless, if you are a follower of a Maz-hab (school of thought) other than the Hanafi School or you prefer to refrain from such products on the basis of Taqwa, then that will be praiseworthy.


We will try to facilitate such persons by indicating which products are affected on this web-site as far as possible.   You should contact the company before consuming as alcohol flavouring is a common process.


Alcohol Extracts Clarification

Vanilla extract is a solution containing the flavor compound vanillin as the primary ingredient. Pure vanilla extract is made by macerating and percolating vanilla beans in a solution of ethyl alcohol and water. In the United States, in order for a vanilla extract to be called pure, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires that the solution contains a minimum 35% of alcohol and 13.35 ounces of vanilla bean per gallon.[1] Double and triple strength (up to 20-fold) vanilla extracts are available.

Vanilla extract is the most common form of vanilla used today. Mexican, Tahitian, Indonesian and Bourbon vanilla are the main varieties. Bourbon vanilla is named for the period when the island of Réunion was ruled by the Bourbon kings of France; it does not contain Bourbon whiskey.

Natural vanilla flavoring is derived from real vanilla beans with little to no alcohol. The maximum amount of alcohol that is usually present is only 2%-3%. Also on the market is imitation vanilla extract, a wood by-product usually made by soaking alcohol into wood which contains vanillin. The vanillin is then chemically treated to mimic the taste of natural vanilla.”

This is a Tescos  Email Seasoning Supplier response.

Paprika Extract - Solvent Extraction

Yeast Extracts: Yeast 1 is autolysed using heat, the insoluble portion is extracted using centrifugation, leaving the soluble portion of the yeast.

Yeast 2  is not extracted as such and is classed as a whole autolysed yeast.  The live yeast is heated with salt so the yeast plasmolyses and then the whole mixture is dried over heated rollers.

There are no solvents or alcohols used in either process.

Based on the above information I’m not certain that we could say that this product is suitable for you; the Yeast Extracts are ok, however the Paprika Extract ingredient supplier hasn’t specifically confirmed that alcohol isn’t used only that a ‘solvent extraction’ process is used.

However, even if any alcohol was present via the Paprika Extract it would only be at an exceptionally low level (i.e. trace) in the finished product.

If alcohol is used in extraction of the seasoning extracts, it would be at trace level, which is something around 0.001 percent.

Hope this helps.

-----End of Email---



“It is not permissible for a person to consume such bread or biscuits (whose dough was made using alcohol).  However, it will be permissible to consume them if it cannot be avoided because of the presence of certain narrations [in the Hanafi Madhab].  

(Imdadul Fatawa 4:118)2

Majmu’ Rasaail Saqqaaf (pg. 549)


Without doubt, alcoholic extracts or otherwise derived from dates or grapes are Haraam and filthy. However, alcohols which are derived from other substances are pure.  The Ulamaa have ruled on this view because of necessity or public predicament (Umoom-e-Balwa.)

Flavourings from dates and grapes?


Alhumdulillah, to date from over 15 years of experience in the field, we have yet to come across flavourings sourced from dates and grapes in the UK market.


We don't issues fatwas at the drop of the hat, but pertinent information is necessary for a decision.  Furthermore, we do not charge the companies or consumers for this service, it is totally a Lillah service.

To summarise:

Alcoholic Flavourings:  They are permissible due to necessity and public predicament as they are so widely used in the food industry.

Alcohol Extracts e.g. (vanilla, yeast and others): They are permissible due to necessity and public predicament as they are so widely used in the food industry.

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