E471 - The once very controversial 'E Number'.
Today we're going to do a quick breakdown of the E-Number 'E471'. Many will remember this as a controversial ingredient. It 'automatically' meant the food contained Pork Gelatine. Albeit, sometimes true, it's not always the case.
What is E471?
E471 is an additive and comes in the category of: Thickeners, gelling agents, phosphates, humectants and emulsifiers. If you read our previous blog on e-numbers you would remember that E400 to 499 come in this category. E471 is known as a mono-and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids. These fatty acids are known as synthetic fats and are produced from glycerol and natural fatty acids. These can be from either plant or animal origin. E471 is generally a mixture of several products. Its makeup is similar to partially digested natural fat.
Halal or Haram?
Now for the simple part. If the source of the fat is from soy fat then it is Halal. If it is from pork fat then it is Haram. HOWEVER, what if the fat is from other animal fat such as 'beef fat'. In other words if the animal was 'non zabiha' beef then it is Haram. If the animal was 'zabiha' then it is Halal. You can either make enquiries to find out, but most times the ingredients state 'halal beef' or have a Halal sign on the label.
Suitable for vegetarians label but contains E471
What if you see "Suitable for Vegetarians"? If the ingredients state it then the E471 in this case is from soy fat. This means the fat is from a plant base. This would make the food product Halal if all other ingredients are Halal.
You will find E471 being used in a range of foods. Foods including baking and hot chocolate mixes; toppings; crisps; sweets and more!
If you see E471, still always question the source. Is from animal or plant base? If it states 'suitable for vegetarians' and the other ingredients are halal then the food should be Halal and permissible. However, if it is from animal base then the next step is to see if the brand states the food to be 'Halal'. When a brand is reputable, trusted and known then this gives peace of mind. Ideally the packaging should state that the gelatine is from halal beef. If the packaging states 'halal beef gelatine' then it has been slaughtered under Islamic Law. If unsure and it doesn't give any indication on the packaging then it's best to avoid.
We hope this Gummy Box blog has cleared up some confusion about E471. Keep checking back for more regular blogs!