Is Whey Protein Halal?


Protein Powder
Photo Courtesy: ajay_suresh

Whey protein is considered halal and permissible to eat only if haram ingredients are not added during the manufacturing process. For example, whey containing pork rennet is not permissible to eat.

Table of Contents:

1. What Is Whey Protein?
2. Why Some Whey Protein Is Considered Haram.
3. What Is The Ruling On Animal Rennet?
4. Fatwas About Whether Whey Protein Is Halal Or Not
5. Halal Protein Powder Alternatives

What Is Whey Protein?

Whey protein is a by-product of cheese production; it is separated from milk, and is a combination of protein, minerals, and lactose.

There are two types of whey, which are:

  1. Acid whey: This type of whey is obtained as a by-product of making acid type cheeses, such as cottage cheese.
  2. Sweet whey: This type of whey is more commonly used in food products and is a by-product of cheese produced with rennet, such as parmesan.  

 There is a difference of opinion regarding the halal status of sweet whey, which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Why Some Whey Protein Is Considered Haram.

Some whey protein powders are considered haram because they are produced from animal rennet (an enzyme) that is not considered halal.

Rennet can be of two types; microbial, which is halal to consume, or animal-sourced, which may be halal or haram, depending on certain factors.

Whey protein may also be considered haram if it contains non-halal ingredients. Some ingredients included in protein-supplements that may be haram include:

What Is The Ruling On Animal Rennet?

Animal rennet is sourced from either pigs or calves. Rennet that is sourced from pigs is always haram to consume, as pigs are forbidden to eat in Islam.

For the case of calf-sourced rennet, most scholars agree that the rennet is only halal if the animal was slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines. We can refer to the insight shared by Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid on the matter:

The Islamic ruling concerning rennet is that if it is taken from an animal that has been slaughtered according to sharee’ah, then it is pure (taahir) and can be eaten. This is according to the Hanafis, Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis.

As regards eating rennet taken from an animal that dies naturally, or that was not slaughtered in accordance with sharee’ah, according to the apparent meaning of the opinions reported from the majority of scholars among the Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis have said, it is impure (naajis) and should not be eaten. 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)” [al-Maa;idah 5:3] – the rennet becomes impure by virtue of the animal’s death, and it is not possible to remove that impurity from it. 

Shaykh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid (source)

Fatwas About Whether Whey Protein Is Halal Or Not

Muslim scholars differ in their opinions regarding whether whey protein is halal or not. Sheikh Kifah Mustapha shares his understanding of the matter in his fatwa:

“Praise be to Allah.

There are two “reasons” behind text dictating something haram or not in consumption; harmfulness and filthiness.

If it is proven scientifically that consuming whey protein is harmful to the human body, then it would be haram for protecting the self is a major concept in Islam. If the substance is filthy it is also considered haram.

Now as to the first point as I read it does not represent a medical harm in consumption.

As to the second point; those who consider that substance changes chemically into a new substance, thus even if it was from a filthy animal like pig, they say it becomes halal. The transformation or (Istahalah) is applicable on this matter. Those who say regardless of transformation filthy is filthy in any format and they consider it haram.

I personally lean to the first point but if I can get non filthy substance, of course I will take that choice first.
And Allah knows best.”

Sheikh Kifah Mustapha (source)

The second point raised by the Sheikh is the reason that scholars have different opinions about whether whey protein is halal to consume or not.

As per the Sheikh’s understanding, Istahalah has taken place and the whey protein is halal to consume. Some Hanafi scholars carry a similar opinion about animal rennet, and thus consider cheese and their by-products to be halal (source).

While scholars have different opinions regarding whether whey protein produced from animal-sourced rennet is halal, many share the opinion that we highlighted in the previous section. Thus, we’d advise you to proceed with caution and steer clear of whey protein that does not have a halal or vegetarian label.

Halal Protein Powder Alternatives

Since halal whey protein is hard to come by, we put together a list of some halal protein powder alternatives that are readily available. We also found a halal-certified whey protein powder, which is mentioned below.

1 – Orgain’s Organic Protein Powder

This organic protein powder is plant-based and vegan approved, making it a safe, healthy, and halal option. You can mix it with milk or water to consume it.

2 – Shifaa Nutrition’s Halal Whey Protein Powder

This whey protein powder is halal-certified. It’s vanilla flavoured, and can be included in smoothies, milk, and even pancakes. The powder is also NSF certified, guaranteeing its quality and purity.

3 – Vega Plant-Based Protein Powder

This plant-based powder is free of any animal-sourced substances, making it halal to consume. It contains protein from peas, organic sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Final Word

In matters of doubt, it is best to lean towards the side of caution. Whey protein that has been labeled as halal has been vetted by halal certifiers, and is determined to come from halal sources. So purchasing whey protein labeled as halal is a safe choice. Otherwise, we advise you to steer clear of whey protein if you are unsure about its source.

Curious about other supplements? Learn more about halal collagen supplements

Asya

Asya is a writer, academic coordinator, teacher, and mother of five. Being born a Muslim in Europe, Asya grew up learning about what foods and practices are halal, and which to avoid. When she's not working, Asya spends her free time reading, spending time with her family, and eating chocolate.

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