Is it permissible to eat food that includes harmful substances?

The Details of the Question
Is it permissible to eat food that includes harmful substances?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is not possible to deal with each item of food separately. However, it will be appropriate to mention some general rules:

It is not permissible to consume food and drinks that contain things forbidden by the religion and that are known to be harmful to health.

The food and drinks that need to be avoided:

1. To eat and drink things that are haram (forbidden) in essence like carrion, pork and wine.

2. Things that are not haram in essence but that are obtained illegitimately through grabbing, stealing and bribery.

3. To eat the food that is known to be allergen. For instance, if fish, meat, milk, egg, pastrami, pickle and strawberries, etc harm a person, they are haram for him but not for others.

4. To eat harmful things like mud, soil and glass.

5. To eat poisonous things like poisonous grass and carrion.

6. To eat narcotic substances; it is permissible to use them if a doctor prescribes them as medicine.

7. To eat clean but disgusting things like frogs, insects without blood, worms in the fruit, cheese and meat.

The following is stated in the Quran:

"…any (meat) forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be dead meat, or blood poured forth, or the flesh of swine― for it is an abomination or what is impious, (meat) on which a name has been invoked, other than Allah's.."(al-Anam, 6/145)

In essence, food and drinks are permissible. All of the things were created for human beings. Therefore, some kinds of meat, wheat, barley, rice, vegetables, fruits, liquids are permissible if they are clean in essence and if they are not harmful to mind and health. They can be eaten and drunk.

However, it is haram to eat and drink some substances in Islam because they are harmful, contrary to wisdom and necessity.  

It is haram to eat the meat of animals that are naturally disgusting, that defend themselves and attack others using their teeth and claws. 

It is haram to eat the plants that kill people, eliminate people's minds, poison their bodies and harm the health of people in any way. For instance, it is not permissible to eat opium, poppies, etc that intoxicate people and harm their minds. 

It is haram to drink liquids that harm the body and intoxicate people. For, according to the majority of mujtahids, it is haram to drink a little or a lot of a liquid that intoxicates. The following is stated in a hadith:  

“Anything that intoxicates is haram. If a big amount of something intoxicates, its little amount is also haram.” (Ibn Majah, Ashriba: 10)

The harms of drinking liquids like those are known by everybody.

A drinkable clean liquid does not become haram when it goes bad unless it harms the body. However, when meat stinks, it becomes haram to eat it. Milk, butter and olive oil do not become haram when they stink. As for food items, if they go bad and become acidy, they lose their cleanliness. Therefore, it becomes haram to eat them. 

Muslims need to pay attention to the content of all food and drinks and to whether they are harmful or not.

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