I get a lot of questions from readers asking whether or not a product or ingredient is halal. I don’t claim to be a scholar of the fiqh of food or to make any proclamations about whether something is 100% halal (permissible) or haram (forbidden). I ask the experts and find out if a product is halal-certified, as that is always a happy moment when it is from a reputable certification source, of course. When a product is not halal certified but the ingredients are not straight forward, I ask the manufacturers of the product and ask to speak to someone who knows more about the ingredients than just reading them from the label. Hopefully more products in the future will be halal-certified but for now we still have to ask a lot of questions if we’re interested in consuming a product that is halal through and through.
That brings me to today’s blog post about Wilton’s Icing Colors. Anyone who is an avid baker in America is probably familiar with the Wilton brand. They make everything from baking sheets to cupcake liners to edible products like icing colors and are available in craft stores like Michael’s.
Getting back to Wilton’s product- this particular one only. I had a reader who emailed and asked me about whether or not the product was halal. While I can’t say without a halal certification symbol on the box, I decided to contact the company directly to ask about whether or not the ingredients were sourced from anything that may raise a red flag such as alcohol products or byproducts as well as animal sources or byproducts.
This is how the conversation went:
Wilton: Yvonne, Thank you very much for your inquiry about Wilton products. The majority of our products are kosher certified and conform to those standards. Here is the ingredient statement for the item you have in question. None of the ingredients are processed from or with alcohol or pork.
WATER, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CORN SYRUP, GLYCERIN, SUGAR, SORBITOL, FD&C YELLOW #6,FOOD STARCH – MODIFIED (CORN), FD&C YELLOW #5, FD&C RED #3, FD&C BLUE #1, FD&C RED #40, CARRAGENAN, AGAR GUM, SODIUM BENZOATE (PRESERVATIVE), POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVE), SALT, CITRIC ACID, FD&C BLUE #2.
Please let me know if there is anything further I can provide for you.
Yvonne: Thank you- can you tell me if the glycerin is animal-based at all?
Wilton Rep: Yvonne, It is from palm kernel oil.
Please let me know if there is anything further I may provide.
Three things I want to point out here: One is that just because something is kosher-certified it doesn’t automatically mean the product is also halal, as kosher products may adhere to slightly different standards in reference to pork and may also allow for alcohol. You can read more on this topic where IFANCA has written in greater detail and with more knowledge on the subject than myself: Are Kosher Products Halal?
Second, I wanted to clarify the issue of glycerin because it is an ingredient which is often derived from pork, so I just wanted to make sure.
Third, as many of you who follow my work may already know, I’m not a fan of the artificial food coloring or high fructose corn syrup in any product, halal-certified or not. In this case, however, I thought it was a great example of a large and well-known brand that has a great reputation with foodies so why not use it as an opportunity to communicate with them about what we’d like to see in the future? They’re already making a product that is free and clear of non-halal ingredients, as far as we can tell, so let’s support furthering that process into putting the label on it.
I learned a few things from this process, one being that things aren’t always as they appear- and that can go either way in the realm of food. I think we should be asking more companies to pursue halal certification because it would certainly appeal to the millions of Muslims in America and that would be billions if you look worldwide. The thing is, we the halal consumers are the ones who need to ask for it. The same goes for all-natural ingredients, organic ingredients and non-GMO ingredients. Consumers have more power than they may ever realize and a good company will always listen.
To contact Wilton, follow this link. Don’t forget to thank them for offering this giveaway while you’re at it!
About the Giveaway
Wilton is giving away one box of Icing Colors (4 ounces). All you have to do is comment on this post. I’d love to hear what you’ll be making with these icing colors if you win!
Giveaway ends next Friday, March 14, 2014 at 12:01 am
UPDATE: This contest is now closed. The winner is Mariam Saleem (comment submitted on 2014/03/09 at 10:13 am). Please contact me as soon as possible with your mailing address so we can get the Wilton product out to you right away.