Is every drink or food in which alcohol present haram (forbidden)?

Details of the Question
Is every drink or food in which alcohol present haram (forbidden)?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

We cannot call every drink or food in which alcohol is present as haram (forbidden).

For instance, ethyl alcohol is present in fruit and vegetables naturally. As fruit and vegetables ripen, certain amounts of ethyl alcohol appears during fermentation as by-products. Most of the natural aromas used in the food and drink industry, ethyl alcohol that has formed naturally is present. In the food regulations all over the world, the existence of certain amounts of ethyl alcohol is regarded as natural.    

The amount of ethyl alcohol present in food and drinks must not exceed a certain amount. That decree is present in the fruit juice regulation. The reason why that decree is present is that alcohol forms naturally in the food that contains carbohydrates after a certain time. It is because of the nature of the food. The reason why the limit of 5 grams is present in the food regulation is explained as follows: alcohol less than that amount can be present in products due to forming spontaneously.  

It is known that most of the natural aromas that are used in the production of food and drinks contain natural alcohol originating from the fruit and vegetables. That is the reason why the final product, fizzy drink, contains alcohol at a rate of 5 in ten thousand. If the analyses that were carried out for fizzy drinks had been carried out for bread, ayran (diluted yoghurt), yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, boza (thick, slightly fermented millet drink), kefir and many other foods, the same results would have appeared. Therefore, it is not right to say that every drink that contains alcohol is haram.   

However, there is another aspect of the issue that is not known: what is added as solvent into drinks.

Flavoring or aromatic essences are used in all fizzy drinks. Those essences are oily and they do not dissolve in water. In order to make them dissolve in water it is necessary to use intermediary solvents that can dissolve in water and oil. The most common, cheapest and readily available intermediary solvent is ethyl alcohol. Therefore, ethyl alcohol is present in the composition of fizzy drinks. Its chemical explanation is as follows: In chemistry, there is a rule: similar substances dissolve in one another. Since the most important and the most widely used solvent is water, all of the solvents except water are divided into two as hydrophilic and hydrophobic. The substances that contain hydrophiles in their molecules may produce a clear solution by forming a hydrophilic association with water.

Are there not any intermediary solvents other than ethyl alcohol that do not intoxicate and are not harmful for health? There are but they are more expensive than ethyl alcohol and if the producer does not have any concern about using them, he may not use anything other than ethyl alcohol.

Does ethyl alcohol, which is used to dissolve flavoring and aromatic oily substances in water, not undergo a chemical change in fizzy drinks?

Ethyl alcohol enables oily substances to dissolve in water through hydrophilic and hydrophobic associations. It is called salvation in chemistry and it is a physical happening. The original content of the substances that undergo a physical change does not generally change. If there is a change, it takes place in an extraordinarily small rate.   

Under the light of the explanations above:

1- The alcohol that forms as a result of fermentation in food and drinks without exceeding a certain rate is not haram; for instance kefir.

2- The food and drinks that naturally contain alcohol are not haram; for instance fruit.

3- It is religiously objectionable to eat or drink the food and drinks into which alcohol is added except for the ones used as medicine or for treatment. The alcohol that is added as solvent does not undergo any change; therefore, it is not permissible to have that drink. If a halal solvent other than alcohol is used, it will be permissible to drink it.

In conclusion:

The main rule for the food and drinks is that they are regarded halal until they are proved to be haram. Therefore, they become haram when it becomes certain that they are haram. It is always better to avoid doubtful things.

In order to examine the composition of any drink, it is necessary to determine whether alcohol has been added as solvent into it. Some fizzy drink producers use ethyl alcohol in order to make it possible for the essence they put into the fizzy drink to dissolve in water because other substances are expensive or are difficult to find. The religious decision regarding the issue varies from fizzy drink to fizzy drink and depends on the religious sensitivity of the producer. It is necessary to have enough knowledge about the issues mentioned above for the decision to be made.

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