Is Cheddar Cheese Haram? (Explained!)

  • Cheddar cheese itself is not considered haram, but concerns arise from the use of animal rennet in the cheese-making process
  • The majority (95%) of cheeses, including cheddar, are produced using vegetable rennet, minimizing the concern for them being haram
  • There was a historical practice of using pig enzymes in cheese-making, but this is no longer common, and modern cheddar cheese does not contain pork enzymes
  • Different Islamic schools of thought vary on the permissibility of consuming cheese made with animal rennet from non-Halal slaughtered animals, leading to confusion
  • Ultimately, the decision to consume cheddar cheese is personal, depending on one’s interpretation of Islamic law and the specific ingredients and processes used in cheese production

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 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 formed from the enzyme chymosin.

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

In truth, it is this that has caused division and confusion among people.

Some 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, you should avoid cheddar cheese.

Various schools have different stances on the consumption of cheddar cheese which uses animal rennet.

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)

My 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 when 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 on 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.

Does knowing about the various interpretations of Halal compliance influence how you view food labeling and certification processes?

Let us know in the comments below!


Q: Is cheddar cheese haram?
A: Cheddar cheese itself is not haram. The Halal status depends on the type of rennet used. Approximately 95% of cheddar cheese uses vegetable rennet, making it generally permissible.

Q: Does cheddar cheese contain pork enzymes?
A: No, the vast majority of cheddar cheese now is produced using vegetable rennet, and there are no pork enzymes in store-bought cheddar cheeses.

Q: Why might some cheddar cheese be considered haram?
A: Cheddar cheese made with animal rennet may not comply with Halal standards if the animal was not slaughtered according to Islamic law, raising concerns for some individuals.

Q: How can you ensure cheddar cheese is Halal?
A: Look for cheddar cheese labeled as “suitable for vegetarians” or check the packaging for the use of vegetable rennet to ensure it meets Halal dietary standards.

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