Carmine (/ˈkɑrmɪn/ or /ˈkɑrmaɪn/), also called a crimson lake, cochineal, natural red 4, C.I. 75470, or E120, is a pigment of a bright-red colour obtained from the aluminium salt of carminic acid; it is also a general term for a particularly deep-red colour of the same name. The pigment is produced from some scale insects such as the cochineal scale and certain Porphyrophora species (Armenian cochineal and Polish cochineal). Carmine is used in the manufacture of artificial flowers, paints, crimson ink, rouge, and other cosmetics, and is routinely added to food products such as yoghurt and certain brands of juice, the most notable ones being those of the ruby-red variety. (source: Wiki)
Ruling on the Use of Cochineal colouring: A Review of the Standards set by the Discourse of the Fatwa Committee of the National Fatwa Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia
The 100th Discourse of the Fatwa Committee of the National Fatwa Council for Islamic Religious Affairs Malaysia convened on the 4-6 July 2012 had discussed the ruling pertaining to the use of cochineal colouring: a revision of the standards set by the Discourse of the National Fatwa Committee for Islamic Religious Malaysia. The Discourse decided that:
Upon examining the evidence, contentions and opinions that were forwarded, the Discourse is of the opinion that cochineal is a type of insect (female bug), that is harmless and any colouring substance produced from it can be used by human beings. Legally, our Food Regulations 1985 states that carmine colouring from cochineal is permitted, based on ‘Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).
The Discourse emphasised that the majority of Muslim jurists had unanimously agreed that bloodless dead insects are considered pure, and it follows that cochineal colourings are extracted from dead and bloodless cochineal insects. Based on that, the Discourse agrees to decide that any use of cochineal colouring in food, drinks and goods is permissible and the amount allowed for usage must be in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, as long as it does not bring any harm.
From the original Jakim posting:
• Cochineal dye is extracted from a kind of small insects. This insect is boiled ( to produce a red colour brown ) or baked in a hot oven ( producing gray ) or on a hot skillet ( producing black ) and then dried. Five ( 5 ) pounds of cochineal insects can produce one ( 1 ) kilogram of carmine dye.
• Cochineal comes from Central America and Mexico. Its use in food after pasteurization
• The use of cochineal found to kill the microbes that are toxic and it is not harmful to humans and also no side effects.
• According to the opinion of Imam Malik and Abu Hanifah in marginal I’anah al – Talibin, constituent 1 , pages 89-90, the use of these insects is allowed as it is a type of animal that blood does not flow.
• Use these insects as a source of colour is not harmful to humans and it has no substance that can cause harm. Based on the original method in Islamic law where ” the origin of all things is a “harus” , then it can be used as long as no harm and controlled.
Author’s Conclusion :
There is no limit or percentage for carmine in Halal preparation perspective. It is now subjected to each food safety law of the country where it has been produced, meaning the % allowable is in accordance to the respective food safety standard or codex. The announcement by Malaysia through fatwa is considered legal in Malaysia and for the rest of the world, it can be a khilaf. UAE (link below) is another country annonced in a similar way.