#165: The E Code in Food Products


Assalamualaikum wbt.

I have a question. Some time ago I heard about the E code displayed on food products in the ingredients is said to refer to ingredients originating from swine or impermissible ingredients. However, some said that the E code doesn’t necessarily refer to such an ingredient. So, I’m confused, how should one truly ascertain that the food one is buying is truly halal? Especially, when most food products use the E code in their list of ingredients. Hope for an explanation from you. Thank you.


Waalaikumussalam wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions, and all those who follow his footsteps until the Final day.

We’ll start with the statement of Allah SWT:

وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ

“And makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil,” [1]

Syeikh al-Maraghi said the word “الطَّيِّبَاتِ” here means any food that is good for the body and life, where people eat them happily. It is also food that can be eaten and digested properly by humans supplying the nutrients that are beneficial to people. [2]

While according to Fakhruddin al-Razi, anything that is considered disgusting normally by people, for it is usually the cause of illness, while anything harmful, its original ruling is prohibited except there is evidence stating otherwise.

The Definition of the E Code

Code E is a code for additives and is often used on food labels in European Union countries. Additives are substances that are safe to eat and are intentionally added to food in small quantities to improve the quality of storage, processing, preparation and packaging of food. This numbering scheme follows the international numbering system (International Numbering System @ INS) which has been determined by the Codex Alimentarius Committee. It is a collection of various standards, codes of practice, internationally recognized guidelines related to food, food processing and food safety aimed at safeguarding human health and ensuring ethical trade codes are implemented.

Not all E codes used in food processing is based on a prohibited source. Additives can be made from plants, synthetic, microbe, natural, chemical and animal sources. [4]

The Ruling for E Code in Food and Drinks

The original ruling of any food and drink is permissible except when there is evidence stating otherwise. (See Raudhah al-Talibin, 3/271) This follows the statement of Allah SWT:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ كُلُوا مِمَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ حَلَالًا طَيِّبًا

“O mankind, eat from whatever is on earth [that is] lawful and good,” [5]

This verse is dedicated for all mankind, regardless of whether they are believers or not, to eat whatever that is on this earth from grains, fruits and animals that is halal for them to take (which means food that is eaten and benefitted from), not taken through force, stealing, prohibited muamalat (trade) or other prohibited matters. While the word ‘tayyiban’ means not from something bad (dirty and disgusting) such as carcass, blood, pork and others. Thus, the verse is evidence that the original ruling for anything (to be eaten and benefitted from) is permissible. [6]

Hence, coming back to the presented question, a food product is ruled halal and permissible to be eaten and taken benefit from as long as there is not any evidence stating otherwise. However, at the same time we’d like to remind us all that leaving the syubhah (doubtful) is better, as stated by Rasullullah PBUH:

دَعْ مَا يَريبُكَ إِلَى مَا لَا يَريبُكَ

“Leave what causes you doubt and turn to what does not cause you doubt.” [7]

In our country, several authoritative bodies are responsible to issue the Malaysian Halal Certification. Furthermore, Halal Hub Division of JAKIM, State Islamic Religious Council and State Islamic Religious Department will ensure that companies that apply for the halal certificate, must declare all ingredients including food additives used along with proper documentation such as a recognized halal certificate and laboratory analysis. Accordingly, if a food product has obtained a Malaysian Halal Certification or Overseas Halal Certification recognized by JAKIM, [8] then it can be eaten without any doubt or suspicion even if it has Code E, [9] because the halal certification certificate is irrefutable evidence showing that the E code found in the food product is composed of halal sources, thus removing the doubts that arise.


According to the above statement, a food product is halal and permissible to be eaten and benefitted from as long as there is no evidence stating otherwise. While any product that has the Malaysia Halal Certification Certificate issued by JAKIM or Overseas Halal Certification Certificate acknowledged by JAKIM can be eaten without any doubt or suspicion, even if the E code is displayed on the packaging, for they have been proven to only contain halal, safe and pure ingredients.

However, if the product has an E code and doesn’t have any Halal Certification from any overseas body of authorities acknowledged by JAKIM, then one should be cautious for the E code may refer to a prohibited source. Furthermore, the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH shows that leaving the syubhah and doubtful is commanded in Islam and safer.

May Allah SWT gives us a clear understanding for us all in religion and protects us from any prohibited matters. Ameen.

Wallahu a’lam.


[1] Surah al-A‘raf: 157

[2] See Tafsir al-Maraghi, 6/56

[3] See Mafatih al-Ghaib, 15/381

[4] JAKIM’s Halal Hub,

https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2839378816112669&id=155056204544957. Accessed on 13th October 2021.

[5] Surah al-Baqarah: 168

[6] See Tafsir al-Sa‘di, 1/80

[7] Riwayat al-Tirmizi (2518)

[8] Please refer to the following link to learn the List of Overseas Body of Authorities acknowledged by JAKIM, https://www.halal.gov.my/v4/index.php?data=bW9kdWxlcy9jZXJ0aWZ5X2JvZHk7Ozs7&utama=CB_LIST&lang=bm. Accessed on 13th October 2021.

[9] JAKIM’s Halal Hub,

 https://www.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2839378816112669&id=155056204544957. Accessed on 13th October 2021.