Is Sugar Alcohol Halal?


Muslims and Halal-conscious consumers tend to think question whether Sugar Alcohol is halal or not? And if they should add it to the list of ingredients they should avoid.

In this article, we will discuss the term Sugar Alcohol and if it is halal to use for muslims.

As per our research, Sugar alcohol is halal because the “alcohol” don’t contain what we commonly refer to as alcohol “ethanol”. Sugar alcohol found in food does not cause intoxication and therefore is considered halal.

Sugar
Photo Credit: Uwe Hermann

What is Sugar Alcohol?

Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that is used as a sweetener and bulking agent. They are made naturally in some foods and plant products like fruits.

When manufacturing foods, snacks, or any other food, they are typically preferred over regular sugar because they can deliver the same sweetness for less calories.

The benefit of sugar alcohols lies in the fact that our small intestine doesn’t absorb sugar alcohol completely, so that fewer calories get into our bodies. And it can be used by diabetic patients and people trying to lose weight.

Is Sugar Alcohol Halal?

Sugar alcohol is considered halal according to Islamic Shariaah, this is because many experts confirm that since sugar alcohol does not contain any intoxicating effects or any other harmful impact.

Since they are made naturally and can be found in plants and do not cause to be intoxicated, many Islamic scholars believe that Sugar Alcohol is Halal.

Here’s a fatwa we found on Islam QA when asked “Sugar alcohol is used as an artificial flavor in several cake mixes. Is it Halal or not?”

Mufti Shafiq Jakhura responded by saying:

In terms of information at our disposal, sugar alcohols are permissible for Halal consumption. The said alcohols occur naturally in plants. Some of them are extracted from plants e.g. sorbitol from corn syrup and mannitol from seaweed, but they are mostly manufactured from sugars and starches. Maltitol, xylitol, and sorbitol are all sugar alcohols.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

IslamQA (source)

What Foods Contain Sugar Alcohol? 

Sugar alcohol may occur naturally in foods, but also it can be extracted from artificial sources. 

Here we will discuss the different forms of sugar alcohols and in what foods you may find them (source).

  • Mannitol: it occurs naturally in pineapples, olives, asparagus, sweet potatoes and carrots.
     
  • Sorbitol: it is found naturally in fruits and vegetables and it is often used as an ingredient in sugar-free gums and candies.
  • Xylitol: it occurs naturally in straw, corncobs, fruits, vegetables, cereals, mushrooms and it is found in chewing gums.
  • Lactitol: it is found in sugar-free ice cream, chocolate, hard and soft candies, baked goods, sugar-reduced preserves and chewing gums.
  • Isomalt: it is often used in hard candies, toffee, cough drops and lollipops.
  • Maltitol: it is used in sugar-free hard candies, chewing gums, chocolate-flavored desserts, baked goods and ice cream.

So if you ever see any of these ingredients on the back of any packaging, be rest assured that this ingredient is halal.

Does Sugar alcohol actually have alcohol?

Sugar alcohols are a little strange, because they are not exactly a sugar, but they are not an alcohol either. 

Sugar alcohols don’t contain what we commonly refer to as alcohol “ethanol”. Yet they fall into the chemical class of alcohol, because like all the compounds of this class, they contain a hydroxyl group(-OH) (source) 

Sugar alcohols aren’t produced by the alcohol fermentation process in the way that alcoholic beverages, such as beer or wine, are produced. 

Nor are they distilled in the way that vodka or whiskey are. 

Nor do they contain the alcohol known as ethanol(ethyl alcohol) which is the type of alcohol that is present in all of the alcoholic beverages.

Can Muslims Eat Sugar Alcohol? 

Yes, muslims are allowed to eat sugar alcohol, that is because it is halal. And many Muslim countries approved that sugar alcohols can be used by muslims and halal-conscious consumers. 

Because as we explained above, sugar alcohol does not contain ethanol and can not be toxic to our bodies, and it is acceptable according to Islamic rules and can be eaten.

Can You Get Drunk Off Sugar Alcohol? 

As mentioned above, sugar alcohols are not produced by the alcoholic fermentation process as the other alcoholic beverages that can get you drunk. 

In short, you can not get drunk eating food that contains sugar alcohol.

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