Image result for e numbers

E-Numbers represent specific food additives, used by the food industry in the manufacture of various food products. These E-Numbers have been formulated by the European Economic Community (EEC) and are universally adopted by the food industry worldwide.

It is known that many E-numbers contain unlisted haraam ingredients in them. Generally additives derived from animals and insects.

E-numbers are reference numbers used by the European Union to facilitate identification of food additives. All food additives used in the European Union are identified by an E-number. The “E” stands for “Europe” or “European Union”. Normally each food additive is assigned a unique number, though occasionally, related additives are given an extension (“a”, “b”, or “i”, “ii”) to another E-number.

The Commission of the European Union assigns e-numbers after the additive is cleared by the Scientific Committee on Food (SCF), the body responsible for the safety evaluation of food additives in the European Union. The convention for assigning E-numbers is:

100-199    food colors
200-299    preservatives
300-399    antioxidants, phosphates, and complexing agents
400-499    thickeners, gelling agents, phosphates, humectants, emulsifiers
500-599    salts and related compounds
600-699    flavor enhancers
700-899    not used for food additives (used for feed additives)
900-999    surface coating agents, gases, sweeteners
1000-1399 miscellaneous additive
1400-1499starch derivatives

E-numbers are only used for substances added directly to food products, so contaminants, enzymes and processing aids, which may be classified as additives in the USA, are not included in the E-number system.

There is an EU directive on food labeling which requires food additives to be listed in the product ingredients whenever they are added for technological purposes. This includes coloring, sweetening and favor enhancement as well as for preservation, thickening, emulsifying and the like. Ingredients must be listed in descending order of weight, which means that are generally found close to the end of the list of ingredients. However, substances used in the protection of plants and plant products, flavorings and substances added as nutrients (e.g., minerals, trace elements or vitamins) do not need to be included in the ingredient list. Because of this, some substances that are regulated as food additives in other countries may be exempt from the food additive definition in the EU.

We generally refer to Food-Info.net for detail on e-numbers.

Additives which are ALWAYS of animal origin, such as (HARAAM):

  • E120 Cochineal : a red colour obtained from female insects
  • E441 Gelatine : derived from the bones and/ or hides of cattle and/ or pigs
  • E542 Edible Bone Phosphate : an extract from animal bones
  • E904 Shellac : a resin from the lac insect

Whilst some additives with a common code such as E47, can be either of animal or plant origin and this latter type needs to be investigated on a case-by-case basis per product/ manufacturer.

The main additives you need to be aware of are:

  • Glycerol / Glycerin / Glycerine (E422) – haraam if obtained from pork or non-halal meat sources.
  • Emulsifiers (E470 to E483) – haraam if obtained from pork or non-halal sources.
  • Edible Bone Phosphate (E542) – haraam if obtained from pork or non-halal meat sources.