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Determining whether a type of cheese is halal or haram, would depend on which animal the key ingredient – rennet – has been extracted from. One might assume that all cheese is halal, because it comes from milk, and milk isn’t haram right? Well like most foods that are categorised as halal or haram, the rennet would have to come from a halal animal, that has been slaughtered in the Islamic way. Where the milk of a cow or goat is definitely halal, there are other elements that are present within the cheese, such as alcohol, pork, and more.
Table of Contents
- What is Rennet?
- Is Rennet Halal?
- What Cheese is Halal?
- Are all Cheeses Halal?
- Is Parmesan Cheese Halal?
- Is Cheddar Cheese Halal?
- Types of Halal Cheese
- How do I Know if American Cheese is Halal?
- Kraft American Cheese Ingredients
- Popular Types of Halal Cheese
- Other Halal Dairy products
- Halal Cheese
What is Rennet?
Animal Rennet is a combination of enzymes that are fabricated in the stomachs of certain mammals. The main component is chymosin, which paired with other enzymes, curdles the milk. This is not a suitable method for halal cheese, as there is no guarantee of how the cow was slaughtered, and even if the rennet was from a cow or another animal.
Is Rennet Halal?
The uncertainty with finding out if rennet is halal or not is due to the fact that the source of the enzyme might be unknown. The animal might not have been slaughtered by a Muslim in a way that follows the halal guidelines, and the animal from which the rennet is extracted might not even be a cow. This means that the active ingredient in cheese could be haram, and through its heavy inclusion in milk, to separate the curds and whey, would automatically make the cheese haram.
What Cheese is Halal?
You’re probably wondering whether your favourite cheese is no longer permissible for you to eat since you’ve learned that the extraction of rennet can be from any animal, which is essentially pretty worrying. There is actually a difference in opinion amongst various Islamic scholars, and sects on the subject of cheese. Whether any cheese made with animal rennet would be halal or haram.
Rennet from the stomach of a pig would be haram, without a doubt. Some Islamic scholars might argue that in the process of making cheese, the rennet disappears from the milk after it has separated into curds and whey, which means that the final product – the cheese – is halal.
Regardless of the difference in opinion, if you’re a little uncomfortable with the uncertainty revolving around this particular product then you might want to gravitate towards the alternatives. There is halal cheese available commercially that has been certified as using only permitted ingredients. These kinds of halal cheese use microbial enzymes of plant-based enzymes to separate the milk. Vegetarian cheese is also halal, as it does not contain any animal rennet. In certain situations, depending on the ingredients listed on the label kosher cheese can be halal.
Are all Cheeses Halal?
There are three kinds of enzymes used to make cheese: lipase, rennet and pepsin. These enzymes are derived from animals, plants or microbial sources. The animal sources include pigs and cows. Pepsin is taken from pigs, Lipase is taken from pigs or cows, rennet are made from calf’s stomach which can be halal, only if this animal was slaughtered in the Islamic way.
Is Parmesan Cheese Halal?
For Parmesan cheese to obtain its name, it has to be made from the traditional cheese-making process, ingredients and methods. Part of this traditional method includes the use of rennet, which is an essential element in making parmesan, as it separates the milk into whey and curds, preparing the dairy for ageing.
The rennet in traditional Parmesan Reggiano comes from animals. If you find that rennet is used in the cheese, then unfortunately the cheese is not halal. The animal that the rennet comes from for parmesan cheese is the cow. Specifically coming from the lining of the fourth stomach of unweaned claves that are slaughtered for veal production. Some rennet can come from goats or lambs.
Vegetarians who often consume cheese as part of their mixed diet, do not eat parmesan, because of the unethical practise of veal production, which is enough to push them far away from this type of cheese. However, some types of parmesan cheese – vegetarian hard kinds – do not contain animal rennet in the process of making or aging the product. Checking for a V of v symbol on the packaging of the cheese will help recognise whether the cheese is vegetarian, which usually means it is halal as well.
Is Cheddar Cheese Halal?
A common favourite amongst many frequent cheese eaters is the cheddar cheese we all look forward to plucking off the dairy aisle at out local supermarkets. The best way to determine whether a type of cheese is halal or not, is to check the ingredients, and pair that with some research – calling the manufacturer if needed. Some cheddar cheeses are halal like the brand Tillamook, which currently has a kosher medium cheddar cheese that is halal.
Cabot creamery has a sharp cheddar offering that is presently halal as well. However many products from the same brands are also non-halal which is why you cannot completely rely on a brand to determine whether all of their products are suitable for a halal diet or not.
Types of Halal Cheese
Cheese comes in various shapes, and sizes, and its never a simple task to separate the halal from haram cheese, especially when they all acquire the same processes for it to be called “cheese.” Unless the rennet has not been derived from any type of animal, especially one that has been slaughtered in the halal way – by a Muslim, then the cheese is not considered halal. So while purchasing you should actively search for the ingredients of the specific cheese to make your decision, on whether it is halal or not.
Haram cheese contains different elements of forbidden ingredients like pig fats, alcohol, and more, so here’s a list of halal cheese that you can purchase from your local supermarket.
|1/3 Less Fat Neufchatel Cheese
|Farmer Cheese Dry Curd
|Jalapeno String Mozzarella Cheese
|Kosher Medium Cheddar Cheese
|Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
|Low Moisture Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
|Sharp Cheddar Cheese
|String Mozzarella Cheese Made with 2% Milk
1/3 Less Fat Neufchatel Cheese
You can never go wrong with cream cheese, and its such a delicious type of cheese to have in your fridge, ready to spread over some bread. You’ve most probably found yourself wary when it comes to some dairy products like cheese, because you cannot determine whether the ingredients used are entirely halal or not. Luckily for you this cream cheese was made with fresh milk and real cream, minus the preservatives, resulting a delightful creamy texture that’ll have you coming back for more in no time.
Farmer Cheese Dry Curd
Farmer’s cheese is basically acid cheese, meaning that an acidic addition is used to curdle the milk. There’s no need for rennet which makes this cheese both vegetarian and halal! This cheese can be enjoyed with bread, crackers, or crumbled on top of salads. It can be blended with cheese like ricotta, which is another soft dairy product, and does not contain animal rennet, how amazing!
Jalapeno String Mozzarella Cheese
Kraft jalapeno string mozzarella cheese is a flavourful snack, made with non-animal products which means that this cheese is both vegetarian and halal.
Kosher Medium Cheddar Cheese
This kosher medium cheddar is made with fermentation-produced rennet, that is kosher and halal certified, which means that it is also vegetarian friendly. Most of Tillamook cheese are made with vegetable based rennet which makes it permissible to buy and eat, when following a halal diet.
Low Moisture Part Skim Mozzarella Cheese
Made with non animal enzymes, this low moisture part skim mozzarella cheese, can be incorporated in a vegetarian or halal diet. Sprinkle this over some toast and indulge in the wonderful stringy, gooey, deliciousness extracted from this simple snack.
Low Moisture Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Kirkland Signature cheeses (Costco) are made from microbial rennet and are suitable for vegetarians, therefore they’re halal to consume.
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
This halal certified sharp cheddar cheese, is made from fresh cows milk, with non-animal rennet. Add this to your favourite sandwiches, and more!
String Mozzarella Cheese
Mozzarella cheese can be either halal or haram depending on what type of rennet is used. Kraft uses microbial enzymes in the majority of cheeses, including the string mozzarella cheese.
How do I Know if American Cheese is Halal?
Let’s take a look at Kraft’s American cheese, and to establish whether this particular product is halal or not, then you should start by checking the logo, does it say its halal, or vegetarian? If yes then buy it, and if not then don’t even consider buying it. Find out if the source of rennet was from an animal, and if so were the animals (cow, calf or goat) slaughtered in accordance to the Islamic law?
You might have to contact the manufacturer for more information, when in doubt. Some of the cheese that Kraft offer, do not contain animal rennet, or any type of animal-based ingredients since they use microbial enzymes. Therefore they are considered halal by nature. Here is a list of Kraft cheese that contain no animal products:
- Granted Romano
- Kraft Natural Swiss
- Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese
The next batch of cheeses have animal enzymes from animals that Muslims are allowed to consume, but these animals were not slaughtered in accordance to the Islamic law. Therefore, the animal cannot be considered halal to consume, which also means that the animal rennet extracted from those animals to make the cheese is not halal either.
- Sharp and Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Kraft Singles
- Deli Deluxe
- Kraft Parmesan
Kraft American Cheese Ingredients
- Cheddar cheese (cheese culture, milk, salt and enzymes)
- Water, milkfat
- Sodium Citrate
- Calcium Phosphate
- Contains less than 2% of salt
- Sodium Phosphate
- Sorbic Acid as a preservative
- Annatto and Oleoresin Paprika.
Looking at the ingredients, the source of animal rennet is unclear. Although we know that the milk used to make American cheese is from a cow, calf, or something from a lab. If the enzyme was extracted from the stomach of a dead cow, that had already been slaughtered, then it would be haram.
Popular Types of Halal Cheese
These types of cheese are halal certified, or suitable for vegetarians, and gluten free diets. It’s always great to have foods that can accommodate different sorts of diets, allowing many to enjoy the wonderful taste and textures of cheese in foods.
- The “G”
- Goat Cheese
These cheeses are herbal and made without gluten. Milk isn’t used and it is a very delicate cheese; suitable for those who are lactose intolerant. Belgioioso is prepared using the enzymes of young animals, and these animals are halal.
This type of certified halal cheese is made in England and has no colour additives, with a natural white colour. There is a natural moisture within the packaging of this cheese allowing the cheese to have a crispy texture. The Cabot cheese can be wrapped in a plastic bag and stored in the fridge, till you intend to use it.
Emmental is made without the use of alcohol and beer when washing the cheese. Made entirely from cows milk, there are holes in the surface that make it crispy.
Milk is used to make this cheese, which is made with great patience after refining. It is an entirely traditional product with impeccable flavour, and tremendous quality.
Alpine goat cheese has an alluring smell, with a unique creamy taste and texture, made from alpine milk, and refined using old-fashioned milk.
This cheese is entirely vegetarian with kosher certification, it happens to be an excellent choice for vegetarians. Tillamook is made with high quality milk and vegetable-based rennet that’s kosher certified, halal certified and vegetarian friendly.
Other Halal Dairy products
Cheese is not the only kind of dairy product that you should be concerned about, when it comes to halal or vegetarian foods. Yoghurt, whey, and many types of dairy desserts, are also popular products that are manufactured similarly to cheese.
Many yoghurt products are thickened using gelatine, which can come from many sources. If it is derived from beef it must be halal certified, any product that uses pork gelatine is automatically considered haram. While animal acquired gelatine can be replaced with fish gelatine or plant thickeners, a halal certified product will easily provide peace of mind for halal consumers that are concerned about the entirety of the ingredients in their food. Because yoghurt is the kind of product that is used in many cultures, whether it is African, Middle-Eastern, or Asian, it is much more important to have manufacturers certify their products.
Whey protein represents one of the fastest growing, and most profitable industries on the market. Whilst whey on its own is halal, it is also manufactured using rennet which can be produced using animal-based enzymes, so always read the ingredients, and frequent research before purchasing whey products.
Dairy desserts such as ice cream and cakes are more harder to certify, because of the long list of ingredients. Without the assurity and halal certification, halal consumers usually choose not to purchase any dessert due to the fear of it containing gelatine, alcohol based flavourings or lard. Fortunately, halal-certified shops selling cakes with vegetarian or halal-friendly ingredients makes it much easier for people to choose and eat their favourite desserts.
Whether you’re a lover of cheese, or someone who likes to add a little sprinkle of mozzarella over their salad, it’s always frustrating when you can’t figure out whether the product you hold in your hand is halal or not. Which is why it would be beneficial to learn about the ingredients, and shop at places where certain brands have halal-certified cheeses, or other dairy products.
Which Cheeses are Halal?
Tillamook currently has a kosher medium cheddar cheese that is halal, and Cabot Creamery has a sharp cheddar cheese that is currently halal.
Can Muslims Eat Cheese?
As long as there are no animal products and alcohol ingredients, then Muslims can eat cheese.