Hair In Bread - Does This Only Affect Muslims?
Like all internet dramas, it wasn't until someone read the food label, before the shocking truth became viral: the bread you're ea...
This "news" isn't new and it's been a well-known fact in the nutritionist world since, well, ingredients labels were invented.
In 2006, food forums began raising the question and BBC Newsnight writer Justin Rowlatt discovered in 2007 that an animal-based flour additive called L-Cysteine (an amino acid) is used to improve the life-span of flour products; biscuits, bread rolls, pizza bases, you name it (except those that claim to be wholemeal).
That's all fine and dandy. A little preservative hardly made your eyelids flicker before, but this might.
"L-Cysteine is [typically] produced from feathers, pig bristles and sometimes even human hair. These days L-Cysteine can also be produced synthetically but apparently human hair remains one of the richest sources of this amino acid – it makes up about 14% of your hair."According to Rowlatt, in China there is a small industry making the additive from hair clippings.
How does this affect Muslims?
Well we know that Muslims do not eat anything deemed Haram. That includes anything coming from a pig, alcohol, and any meat product that is not Zabiha and Halal. But this isn't just about porkophobia. Edible human beings are not on a Muslim's menu either.
The problem is that we wouldn't know if the L-Cysteine being used was synthetic or not. We would have to contact every pizzeria, bread factory and bakery.
For Rabbi Zushe Yosef Blech, however, L-Cysteine from human hair is Kosher – "so long as the hair in question was not harvested from dead bodies."
The packet might say 'suitable for vegetarians', yet this additive, also known as E920, can be vegan or non-vegan, says the Vegan Society. As a general rule in Islamic principles, if you're in doubt about something, you leave it completely.
So how commonly is L-Cysteine used?
The problem with L-Cysteine is that even when it is used it doesn't have to be listed in the ingredients.
"That’s because [E920] it is broken down in the baking process so the manufacturers argue that doesn't constitute an ingredient."So for some Muslims, this isn't a question of how large the Haram factor is. Some Muslims don't mind splashing white wine into a pan because they feel it burns off during cooking process, cutting out the intoxicating effect.
Similarly with E920, as it's a minuscule amino acid, does its tiny size make it irrelevant to the Halal-Haram scale?
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