Is it permissible to use Carminic a...

Egypt's Dar Al-Ifta

Is it permissible to use Carminic acid as a natural food colorant which is extracted from an insect?


I would like to know whether it is permissible to use Carminic acid as a natural food colorant. Please take into account that it is extracted from the female insect known as Dactylopiuscoccus Costa. Carminic acid is sometimes used to dye saffron and other foodstuff.


Maliki scholars, in one of their opinions, maintain the permissibility of eating and benefitting from insects. This is contrary to the opinion of the majority of scholars which is the opinion used for fatwa in the matter of foodstuff. This is because eating insects is considered repulsive to human nature. However, there is no objection to following the Maliki opinion permitting using and benefitting from insects if some of the material extracted from them are beneficial.
On the other hand, it is possible to establish the legal ruling on the effect of (istahala) in the removal of impurity or in allowing the consumption of insects. (Istihala) is the process by which a substance undergoes a chemical transformation to produce a different substance with different properties, thereby removing the substance’s impurity; the substance can no longer be described as impure.
Such substances are extracted from certain kinds of insects that undergo physical and chemical changes that completely change their chemical structure when they are transformed into colorants. In this case, they become pure and permissible for consumption provided they do not cause any harm. This is the opinion of the majority of scholars who maintain the prohibition of eating insects (which are considered filth or repulsive).

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