Halal Consumer - Issue 32 - page 18

A Closer Look at Labels
Glycerin is Good
Glycerin has a wide variety of benefits when used in personal
care products. The Dermatology Review states, “Apart from mois-
turizing, [glycerin] also has cleansing, lubricating, and soothing
properties.” Glycerin keeps skin toned, moisturized, and hydrated
through its ability to absorb and retain moisture. It also increases
the thickness of the epidermal layer, which helps keep danger-
ous chemicals out and traps moisture in. Soaps and lotions
containing glycerin are less drying on the skin and cleansers
with glycerin can be used on both oily and dry skin. However, it
is important to use glycerin infused products, not pure glycerin,
which can cause irritation.
Personal care products and cosmetics that contain glycerin, says
IFANCA Food Scientist Haider Khattak, include shaving cream,
toothpaste, mouthwash, eyebrow pencils, lip colors, and many
other skin and hair care products.
This versatile ingredient has been widely used as an important
food additive. You’ll find it in cookies, cakes, granola bars, candy,
gum, and ice cream as a way to retain moisture, giving the prod-
ucts a creamy texture and helping to increase product shelf-life,
while adding a bit of sweetness. Glycerin is also added to pre-
pared frosting to ensure it does not set too hard.
Processed, canned, frozen, and dried fruits and vegetables, such as
those in cereals and sauces, often contain glycerin to prevent dry-
ing out; while fresh fruits and vegetable are free from the additive.
A common humectant, glycerin is routinely added to jams and jel-
lies. You’ll also find it in extracts and liquid flavorings.
Since glycerin can be used as a sugar substitute because of its
sweet flavor, it can often be found in low-fat and low-carb foods.
Cough syrups, in fact, use it as a sweetener.
What Makes it
Glycerin has two main sources: animal and plant fats and oils.
It can also be made synthetically in a lab, but this is less com-
mon. Khattak explains, “Glycerin is a sugar alcohol that can be
obtained from natural sources or can be synthesized. Glycerin,
also referred to as glycerol, is a component of all animal and
vegetable fats and oils.” It is the source that glycerin is derived
from that determines if it is halal or not. Khattak goes on to add,
“Vegetable-derived glycerin and synthetic glycerin are considered
halal. Animal-derived glycerin may not be.”
When boiled down to the basics, the reason glycerin is
when applied topically or ingested in foods, is it has the potential
to be absorbed into the body. Product labels do not list where the
glycerin comes from, leaving customers to wonder what exactly
their body is taking in. It is up to the consumer to ask manu-
facturers what the source of the glycerin is. However, given the
number of products containing this syrupy liquid, this can be
A Common Ingredient
By Taskeen Khan
Glycerin is an amazingly diverse
ingredient, added to food, cosmetics,
and pharmaceuticals. Despite its
widespread use, consumers often know
little about this colorless, odorless
liquid. One aspect of glycerin, which is
of relevance to the Muslim community,
is its status as a doubtful, or mashbooh,
ingredient. So what exactly is glycerin
and why might it not be halal?
Spring 2015
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