Is Cheddar Cheese Haram? (Explained!)

I know this is a question that comes up time and time again, is Cheddar cheese Haram?

And, in truth, it can be difficult to get an exact answer.

This typically comes down to some people being of one opinion while others are of another.

Unfortunately, this can, of course, lead to much confusion.

So, allow me to give you the actual facts about cheddar cheese, thus allowing you to make an informed decision for yourself.

Cheddar cheese itself is not haram. The potential problem lies in the use of rennet in the cheese-making process. However, approximately 95% of cheeses produced worldwide now use vegetable rennet. With that being said, there is a difference of opinion about whether animal rennet is considered halal or haram. If the animal has not been slaughtered in accordance with Islamic law. Some argue that this shouldn’t be an issue, as long as there is no cross-contamination with fluid from the animal.

1. Does Cheddar Cheese Have Pork Enzymes?

So, as you can see, the main issue with Cheddar Cheese is the use of rennet, more specifically animal rennet.

However, as 95% of the cheese produced worldwide uses vegetable rennet, this is potentially only a minor problem.

That being said, this also means that potentially 5% of cheese produced could in fact be haram.

And this once more comes down to the use of animal rennet.

Firstly, it’s important to understand the use of rennet in the cheesemaking process.

Rennet is actually formed from the enzyme chymosin.

The purpose of chymosin is to coagulate or curdle milk in the stomach of a calf.

Basically, chymosin causes the casein protein in milk to clump together and then create curd.

Plus, chymosin blended with the enzyme pepsin is what creates rennet.

However, depending on the animal used for rennet there is often the worry that cheddar cheese may contain pork enzymes.

And of course, this would definitely be haram.

The “Traditional” Cheesemaking Process

Now, rennet is typically derived from veal calves (cows) for cheddar cheese and from kids for goat’s cheese.

But unfortunately, the demand for veal couldn’t keep pace with the demand for rennet for cheesemaking, so another source was looked into.

It was found that mixing animal rennet with animal pepsin enzymes would aid the manufacture of cheese.

And the best animal to get pepsin from is a pig.

So, the use of rennet and pepsin became extremely common in United States cheese manufacturing.

That being said, this is a process that came about in the 1960s and 1970s and has not been used since the mid-1990s.

In fact, as I’ve mentioned, the vast majority of cheddar cheese is now produced using vegetable rennet.

So, in effect, there are NO pork enzymes in store-bought cheddar cheeses.

Now, the reason I mention “store-bought” is that there are many Artisanal cheeses produced every year.

So, as these are produced using traditional methods in a non-mechanized way, you would need to speak to the manufacturer directly to know what ingredients have been used.

2. Why the Confusion Between Non-Halal Slaughter and Cross-Contamination?

A second reason why cheddar cheese MAY be considered haram is due to how and where the animal is slaughtered for the use of rennet.

And in truth, it is this that has caused division and confusion amongst people.

There are those who will categorically state that if an animal is slaughtered in a non-halal way, then this is considered haram.

And this is regardless of the animal in question.

Then again, the Hanafi Madhab claims that the cheddar cheese produced from cows slaughtered in a non-Halal way is permissible to consume.

However, it is desirable that you avoid cheddar cheese.

There are various schools that have a different stance on the consumption of cheddar cheese which uses animal rennet.

Basically, even though there isn’t an issue with non-Halal slaughter, you probably aren’t aware of which other animals are slaughtered in the same place.

So, in effect, there is a chance of cross-contamination from other animals.

Therefore, cheddar cheese is viewed as haram.

Can you see just how confusing this all is?

In truth, whether you consume cheddar cheese or not comes down to a personal decision.

The vast majority of cheese is produced using vegetable rennet, so the packaging should show “suitable for vegetarians.”

However, I completely understand if you don’t want to take the chance, and therefore avoid cheddar cheese altogether.

Unfortunately, there will never be a definitive answer to whether cheddar cheese is considered haram.

Making Rennet (Summary)

Final Thoughts

So, I hope you understand that there is a great deal of confusion as to whether cheddar cheese is haram.

This mainly comes down to the use of animal rennet, plus there was a time in history that pigs were used for pepsin in the cheesemaking process.

However, this practice is no longer followed, and the vast majority of cheese is produced using vegetable rennet.

As for non-Halal slaughter, there are varying schools of thought whether this is haram or not.

Therefore, it comes down to a personal decision if you should eat cheddar cheese or not.

On a similar subject, you may wish to find out if halloumi is considered Halal.

Leave a Comment