Is Cheddar Cheese Halal or Haram? (Quick Guide)
Cheddar cheese is a type of hard, yellow or white cheese. It is one of the most popular types of cheese in the world, enjoyed for its tangy, sharp flavor and creamy texture.
Is cheddar cheese halal? As with any food product, the question of whether or not it is halal (permissible according to Islamic law) is an important one for Muslims to consider.
Is Cheddar Cheese Halal?
Yes, cheddar cheese is halal if the ingredients used in the making of cheese are halal. Cheddar cheese can be halal, as many companies have now switched from animal rennet to a more animal-friendly option, plant-based or microbial rennet.
Cheddar cheese will be haram or halal based on what ingredients are used to make it. Generally, different ingredients which are used in making cheddar cheese are derived from plants and animals.
So, if the ingredients are derived from halal animals and in the halal way (Islamic slaughtering) then it will be allowed to consume such cheese otherwise it will be deemed as haram.
Cheddar cheese is traditionally made from cow’s milk, which is generally considered halal.
However, some cheddar cheese products may contain other ingredients that are not considered halal, such as rennet, which is an enzyme used to coagulate the milk during the cheese-making process.
Rennet can be derived from the stomach lining of a calf, which may not be halal for Muslims to consume.
If the cheese is made from the milk of an animal which we are not permitted to eat, then according to scholarly consensus it is not permissible to eat it.
If it is made from the milk of an animal which we are permitted to eat, and it is known that it is made with rennet that has been derived from an animal slaughtered according to sharee’ah and it has not been mixed with any najaasah (impurity), then it may be eaten.
If it was made with rennet derived from dead meat, there is a difference of scholarly opinion as to whether we may eat it, but the most correct view is that it is haraam.
If it was made with rennet from a source which is inherently naajis (impure), such as rennet derived from pigs, then it should not be eaten.
In many cases these matters are unclear to the Muslim (he does not know the source of food ingredients).
In this case, it is better to fear Allah and be cautious. Avoiding doubtful things may be preferable to using them in these circumstances, as stated in the hadeeth narrated by al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said:
I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say – and al-Nu’maan pointed to his ears – “That which is lawful is plain and that which is unlawful is plain, and between the two of them there are doubtful matters about which not many people know.
Thus he who avoids doubtful matters clears himself in regard to his religion and his honour, but he who falls into doubtful matters falls into that which is unlawful, like the shepherd who pastures around a sanctuary, all but grazing therein. Truly every king has a sanctuary, and truly Allaah’s sanctuary is His prohibitions. Truly in the body there is a morsel of flesh which, if it is sound, all the body issound and which, if it is corrupt, all of it will be corrupt. Truly it is the heart.”Narrated by Muslim, 1599
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Can Cheddar Cheese Be Made Without Rennet?
Cheddar cheese without rennet is hard to find. Most hard cheeses are made with rennet – plant or animal-based – to achieve a thicker texture.
IslamQA stated that if the rennet is taken from an animal that has been slaughtered according to Shari`ah, then it is pure and can be eaten.
If the rennet is taken from an animal that dies naturally, or that was not slaughtered in accordance with Shari`ah, it is impure and should not be eaten.
This is according to the Hanafis, Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis. They base this ruling on the aayah (interpretation of the meaning):
“Forbidden to you for food) are: al-maytatah (dead animals – cattle-beast not slaughtered)”Surah al-Maidah 5:3
The rennet becomes impure by virtue of the animal’s death, and it is not possible to remove that impurity from it.
Imam al-Nawawi said in al-Majmu’ (9/68):
“The ummah has agreed that it is permissible to eat cheese so long as it is not mixed with anything impure, such as adding rennet from a source that is not halal because it was not slaughtered according to shari’ah. This ijma’ (scholarly consensus) is the evidence for its permissibility.”
However, the scholars held different opinions regarding the ruling on eating the food made from rennet extracted from an animal that was not slaughtered in accordance with the Sharee‘ah.
Cheese made with animal rennet other than a pig source is halal.
The fuqaha explain, however, that it is better to avoid whenever reasonably possible when its source is unknown because of the difference of opinion between the Sunni schools of Fiqh regarding its permissibility and the doubt therein.
It is better if a person abstains from it.
According to Imam Abu Hanifa, the rennet of a dead animal is pure just like an egg.
Imam Abu Hanifa (also said: The milk of the dead animal and its rennet are pure, and the ruling of death does not apply.
Therefore, in Hanafi, if the rennet is extracted from lawful animals it is lawful to consume, regardless if it is slaughtered in accordance to Shariah or not.
Only Allah knows best (taken from Islamqa website)
Which Cheddar Cheese Is Halal?
Look at the labels when looking for halal cheddar cheese. Most producers will label their products to inform buyers whether they offer vegetarian-friendly items (which are technically halal-friendly).
Here are some methods for determining whether a brand of cheddar cheese is vegetarian and halal:
- Look for any mention of rennet or enzymes in the ingredients section, such as “Non-animal rennet” or “Vegetable rennet.”
- Another thing to keep in mind is that Kosher cheeses are completely vegetarian and halal. This is due to Jewish religious rules prohibiting the mixing of milk and meat. So keep an eye out for the labels “OK,” “Star K,” “OU,” and “Tablet Star.”
- Naturally, vegan cheese is halal-friendly. However, as they don’t eat dairy either, their cheese is mainly made with coconut milk, nuts, flour, etc.
Here are some brands to keep an eye on when it comes to vegetarian-friendly and halal-friendly cheddar cheese:
- Bass Lake Cheese Factory
- Kirkland Signature (Costco)
- Happy Farms (ALDI)
- Laughing Cow
- 365 Whole Foods
- Trader Joe’s
- Widmer’s Cheese Cellars
What Brands of Cheddar Cheese Are Made with Non-animal Rennet?
There are a few of types of cheddar cheese that are made with non-animal rennet. They are:
This type of cheddar is produced with microbial rennet. They offer three varieties of cheddar cheese:
- Cabot Vermont Sharp
- Cabot Extra Sharp
- Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar
Kerrygold offers two types of cheddar: “Reserve Cheddar,” aged 24 months, and “Aged Cheddar,” aged 12 months.
This type of cheddar is handmade and has a mild taste.
According to producers, Organic Valley let their cheddar age for 300 days to achieve a better taste.
Sargento’s cheddar cheese is vegetarian. It’s one of the company’s cheeses, along with mozzarella, Swiss cheese, Colby Jack, and Four-Cheese Mexican, made from non-animal rennet.
In order to ensure that cheddar cheese is halal, it is important to carefully check the ingredient list used to make the cheese.
Some cheddar cheese products are specifically labeled as halal, vegan, or vegetarian or use plant-based rennet, which would make them suitable for consumption by Muslims.