Can Muslims Enjoy Halloumi? The Ultimate Guide to Halal Cheese

This is a surprisingly common question; is halloumi halal, according to Islamic law?

This may be of concern, not just for yourself if you follow this religion, but also if you are catering to others and need to consider their specific needs.

What does halal actually mean?

Surely no animals are slaughtered in the production of cheese?

This is actually a serious topic to discuss, so let’s take a look at the facts.

The majority of halloumi is halal and is considered to be within the boundaries of Islamic law. Halal typically refers to the method by which an animal is slaughtered for food production or to be consumed. This is where some confusion may lie as regards Halloumi, as the cheese is made using rennet, which may be animal or plant-based. The rennet is traditionally taken from the stomach of a young calf. Therefore, if animal rennet is used in halloumi, it needs to be ascertained whether the calf was slaughtered under Islamic law requirements. However, most commercially produced halloumi is made from plant-based rennet and is, therefore, halal.     

Is Halloumi Halal or Haram?

When considering if halloumi can be eaten under Islamic law, then undoubtedly, most people would say that it is fine.

After all, it’s not necessary to slaughter an animal to make the cheese, nor does it contain alcohol.

In other words, it is halal, which means allowed.

If the opposite was true, that Halloumi was forbidden, it would be haram.

However, it is slightly more complicated than you might imagine.

The process of making halloumi requires the use of rennet.

Rennet is an enzyme that coagulates the milk and solidifies the cheese.

The problem is that traditionally rennet would be sourced from the stomach of a young calf.

So, if that was the case, the calf would need to be slaughtered under Islamic law.

This means that Allah’s name is invoked at the time it is killed.

So, before you can assume that halloumi is halal, you first need to establish whether animal-based rennet has been used in its production.

And then whether the animal has been killed under Islamic law.

This may not be an easy task to achieve unless the halloumi is specifically labeled as halal.  

Does Halloumi Contain Other Animal Enzymes? 

A further concern when considering if halloumi is halal is if it contains other animal enzymes apart from rennet.

The cheesemaking process may involve the use of lipase or pepsin.

These particular enzymes can be sourced from animals or plants.

Pepsin is only derived from pigs, which immediately makes it forbidden; it is haram, not halal.

Lipase, however, can come from pigs or cattle.

Clearly, if from pigs, then the halloumi will not be halal.

But it could be acceptable if the lipase was obtained from cattle and the animals were killed under Islamic law.

Unfortunately, the manufacturers are not obliged to go into so much detail when labeling cheese.

You may need to investigate further if it’s not immediately obvious from the listed ingredients.

However, the practice of using pepsin and lipase is somewhat outdated, and it would be unusual for a commercial cheesemaker to still do this.

But, of course, there are many independent, artisanal kinds of cheese available, so you would need to be warier of these. 

Halal and Haram Animal Meat in Islam

Final Thoughts

The majority of halloumi is considered to be halal.

However, if animal rennet is used in the production of cheese, then further investigation is necessary.

The calf from where the rennet is sourced would need to be slaughtered under Islamic law regulations.

You also need to check if the halloumi contains other animal enzymes, such as pepsin or lipase.

If in doubt, then avoid halloumi in your diet. 

On a similar subject, read my thoughts on whether Cheddar cheese is classed as Haram.

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