7 Haram Ingredients Muslims Will Thank Allah We Can't Eat

7 Haram Ingredients Muslims Will Thank Allah We Can't Eat

Just a glance may spoil your appetite, so don't make this a lunch break read unless you've got a strong stomach!
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Muslims who eat halal all know that there are specific Haram ingredients to avoid, but do we know why? These ingredients aren't just outlawed because they're unhealthy, it's also because some of them are super, super gross. Here's the list of the top 7 most disgusting haram ingredients. Just a glance may spoil your appetite, so don't make this a lunch break read unless you've got a strong stomach!


1. Gelatin

Aww, gummy bears! Innocent enough, right? Now, here comes the fun part.

Gelatin is protein obtained from cows and pigs by boiling their skin, tendons, ligaments and bones in boiling water. It's commonly present in marshmallows, yogurt, cream cheese and frosted cereals, which is why you should still check the ingredients label of every product, even if it's marked Kosher. Gelatin is also used in shampoos, face masks and cosmetics, so to all the Muslim makeup gurus out there, looks like some of your Mac lipsticks may share more than just a name with Chilli. And speaking of Mac...

2. Carmine/Cochineal

Ah, yes. That gorgeous red shade of MAC's Hot Tahiti? Its color "is extracted from the insect’s body and eggs and is mixed with aluminum or calcium salts to make carmine dye (also known as cochineal)."

And when used as a food additive, it may incite an allergic reaction, trigger an asthma attack and even send you into anaphylactic shock. This became such a concern that in Jan. 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration began to require that all foods and cosmetics containing cochineal must declare it on the product's ingredients list. This ingredient is also present in some food products by brands like Yoplait, Betty Crocker, Hot Pockets and Werhter's.

3. L-cysteine

I can already hear you gasping, "No!" And as always, I'm here to tell you it's much more worse than what you're thinking.

L-cysteine helps make dough stretchy and workable, like pizza dough and bagels. But what's the secret to that elasticity? Not weaves — oh no, we want to keep this organic as possible, with real human hair. And not just human hair but also duck feathers (specifically Chinese and Indian ducks, oddly enough) and hog hair.

If it's any comfort, know that the hog hair is only swirled into the mix if there isn't enough dark hair and duck feathers to go around — not that you would really taste the difference. Since L-cysteine is considered a "reaction flavor," the Federal Department of Agriculture (FDA) does not require it to be present on ingredients lists if it has been used to create the final product, like with pizza kits.

Of course, there are synthetic and microbial (read: not-human-hair-version) of L-cysteine available as well, but they're pricey and not many peasants like us common folk can afford. Fast food chains are the least likely to dish out a dime for higher quality L-cysteine, especially not when they can just leave their cheap version of the ingredients list so you can easily block it out of your mind. Customer service at its finest, eh?

4. Alcohol

This one's very common, and you may be thinking, "OK, human hair one I get, but alcohol? Non-Muslims drink that fresh from the bottle all the time!"

Yeah, and it tastes nasty. All those fancy schmancy drinks you've heard of? Martina, margarita, jagar bomb and so forth are all alcohol mixed with something else, and sometimes, that something else is orange juice (vodka + orange juice combo — because apparently, that's a thing now). No one drinks alcohol straight unless they're hardcore, and in that case, they may also be hardheaded because the negative effects of alcohol are innumerable, including stroke, high blood pressure and cancer.

Alcohol tastes sickening for a reason — it's made from fermentation, which is the professional synonym for rotting sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide for days to weeks on end.

It's very unhealthy in large doses, especially if you're looking to get intoxicated, but surprise, surprise! Under strict guidelines, alcohol made from ingredients besides dates and grapes is technically permissible if taken for health reasons or present in minuscule amounts. However, this can get quite tricky. For instance, ethyl alcohol is a common ingredient, and sometimes, it can be derived from grapes and dates, which means you'll have to dial customer service to corner an answer out of them, every single time.

This is why I recommend taking the taqwa route, dropping that product and moving along, because trust me, you don't need that kind of carcinogenic negativity in your stomach for your food to taste better.

5. Confectionery Glaze

Those aren't Hot Cheetos. They're Lac insects. You already know where I'm going with this.

This Timon and Pumbaa inspired technique involves extracting resin from female Lac bugs after they bark, which allows them to produce shellac, a coating or glaze, "much like honey from a bee," except for the fact it's insoluble, of course. That's almost ironic, because Lac resin is actually used to make pills easier to swallow by masking their odor. It's also commonly applied to fruits and vegetables to market that shiny, natural gleam — much like the sheen of your furniture polish, aluminum foil and lipstick.

Lac resin is also the reason why candies like jelly beans, Easter eggs and candy corn are a hit with kids. Under FDA guidelines, shellac passes for "resinous glaze" or "confectioner's glaze" or "natural glaze," so half time, it's used with pharmaceutical pills and with products in the cake aisle. But let's not get confused here, people. Resin isn't bug poop, it's secretion — so like... bug spit!

Still grossed out? Yeah, me too.

6. Glycerin/Glycerol

It's also in soap. Guess that gives you all the hints you need.

Glycerin is can be animal or vegetable origin, but it's usually created from animal fat to dissolve in water or alcohol to form a "colorless, thick liquid which freezes to a gummy paste." 100 percent glycerin can blister your tongue with a single lick, but when doused with water, it can soften your skin. Hence, glycerin is a byproduct of manufacturing soap and also used to produce toothpaste, mouthwash and even pet food to really up that "chewy" flavor, apparently.

If the glycerin is from a vegetable source (soybeans), you're in the clear. If the glycerin is from an animal source, however... Well, now, you have to worry about tallow.

Tallow is the keeps-you-from-gagging friendly "euphemism for body fat from cows, sheep and pigs." Not a shock factor for you anymore? If you survived through gelatin, I'd expect as much.

Tallow extraction begins with suet (hard white fat on kidneys and loins) from the carcass of beef, pigs, mutton and sometimes, horses. Other pseudonyms this ingredient goes by are: oleic, palmitic, stearic, palmitoleic, linoleic and myristic acid. It's even present inks, adhesives, cosmetics, bird food and was historically used to make candles (as a cheaper alternative to wax, and it still is used for DIY candle projects today). Glycerin also acts as a lubricant for machinery and ammunition, so you know it's the real bomb, haha... Moving on!

What about in food? It can be in condensed milk, breakfast cereals and even pre-cooked vegetables and sauces. It's quite common among processed food, so stick to the organics and naturals when you can. But speaking of natural...

7. Natural and Artificial Flavoring

This one is vague and purposefully so. Companies often try to hide their "extra" ingredients under this tagline ingredient. According to the FDA, natural flavor can pass as "natural" if it's from an edible animal or plant source. Artificial flavors, on the other hand, can be any inedible ingredient under the sun, from the depths of the ocean and delivered through the doors of a science laboratory — "from petroleum to paper pulp processed to create the chemicals that flavor your food."

These ingredients are added for aesthetic reasons. In most cases, they add zero nutritional benefit to your food products. And yes, natural flavors also come under our scrutiny in this case. Just because the ingredient claims to be "natural" does not mean it can't be harmful.

Both ingredients may contain any of the ingredients listed above in this article or others we may never have heard of. They are allowed to do that under FDA guidelines if it's a "standardized flavor," and there's no need to mention the details if that ingredient isn't the product itself. So if you were to buy vanilla extract, the ingredients label would obviously list "vanilla" as an ingredient, but if you were to purchase pudding, and the amount of vanilla extract falls under one percent and is considered "standard," the company does not have to list "vanilla extract" as an ingredient!

So, could they also hide beetle juices like "carmine" or human hair like "L-cysteine" under natural and artificial flavors label? You bet they can, and they most certainly have.

How can you figure out if the product you're purchasing is, in fact, halal? Follow these four, bite-sized steps to find out.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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​An Open Letter To The People Who Don’t Tip Their Servers

This one's for you.
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Dear Person Who Has No Idea How Much The 0 In The “Tip:” Line Matters,

I want to start off by asking you a simple question: Why?

Is it because you can’t afford it? Is it because you are blind to the fact that the tip you leave is how the waiter/waitress serving you is making their living? Is it because you’re just lazy and you “don’t feel like it”? Is it because you think that, while taking care of not only your table but at least three to five others, they took too long bringing you that side of ranch dressing? Or is it just because you’re unaware that as a server these people make $2.85 an hour plus TIPS?

The average waiter/waitress is only supposed to be paid $2.13 an hour plus tips according to the US Department of Labor.

That then leaves the waiter/waitress with a paycheck with the numbers **$0.00** and the words “Not a real paycheck.” stamped on it. Therefore these men and women completely rely on the tips they make during the week to pay their bills.

So, with that being said, I have a few words for those of you who are ignorant enough to leave without leaving a few dollars in the “tip:” line.

Imagine if you go to work, the night starts off slow, then almost like a bomb went off the entire workplace is chaotic and you can’t seem to find a minute to stop and breathe, let alone think about what to do next.

Imagine that you are helping a total of six different groups of people at one time, with each group containing two to ten people.

Imagine that you are working your ass off to make sure that these customers have the best experience possible. Then you cash them out, you hand them a pen and a receipt, say “Thank you so much! It was a pleasure serving you, have a great day!”

Imagine you walk away to attempt to start one of the seventeen other things you need to complete, watch as the group you just thanked leaves, and maybe even wave goodbye.

Imagine you are cleaning up the mess that they have so kindly left behind, you look down at the receipt and realize there’s a sad face on the tip line of a $24.83 dollar bill.

Imagine how devastated you feel knowing that you helped these people as much as you could just to have them throw water on the fire you need to complete the night.

Now, realize that whenever you decide not to tip your waitress, this is nine out of ten times what they go through. I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to realize that this is someone's profession - whether they are a college student, a single mother working their second job of the day, a new dad who needs to pay off the loan he needed to take out to get a safer car for his child, your friend, your mom, your dad, your sister, your brother, you.

If you cannot afford to tip, do not come out to eat. If you cannot afford the three alcoholic drinks you gulped down, plus your food, and a tip do not come out to eat.

If you cannot afford the $10 wings that become half off on Tuesdays plus that water you asked for, do not come out to eat.

If you cannot see that the person in front of you is working their best to accommodate you, while trying to do the same for the other five tables around you, do not come out to eat. If you cannot realize that the man or woman in front of you is a real person, with their own personal lives and problems and that maybe these problems have led them to be the reason they are standing in front of you, then do not come out to eat.

As a server myself, it kills me to see the people around me being deprived of the money that they were supposed to earn. It kills me to see the three dollars you left on a forty dollar bill. It kills me that you cannot stand to put yourself in our shoes - as if you’re better than us. I wonder if you realize that you single-handedly ruined part of our nights.

I wonder if maybe one day you will be in our shoes, and I hope to God no one treats you how you have treated us. But if they do, then maybe you’ll realize how we felt when you left no tip after we gave you our time.

Cover Image Credit: Hailea Shallock

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The Best Summer Job And Lobster Roll In Connecticut

It's truly the coolest summer job.

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I work at a restaurant on the Connecticut Shoreline called Lobster Landing. Lobster landing is located on the water in Clinton, CT. I work every day in the kitchen helping to serve food, take orders, and cook food. Having a summer job can be really boring at times, but not when you work at a place like this because there's always something going on. Deciding to apply and work at Lobster Landing was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Lobster Landing is owned by two amazing people, Enea and Cathie Bacci. The two of them have worked incredibly hard by devoting much of their time and energy into getting their business to be as successful as it is today. They always welcome their customers with a warm smile or even sometimes a big hug. Cathie and Enea make it an unforgettable and happy experience for everyone that comes to their restaurant. Lobster Landing is a home away from home for not only the customers but also for the staff. They have a very small staff of about 13 people who act like a close-knit family.

Lobster Landing is a very simple restaurant. There are only three things on the menu. Lobster Landing is most famous for their Lobster Rolls. Their Lobster Rolls could be considered to be the best in the state of Connecticut. Because I'm a little biased, I would say they're the best in the world. They also offer a sweet Italian sausage with peppers, onions, and a spicy mustard vinaigrette sauce and lastly, they offer all-beef hot dogs with cheese or sauerkraut. They are also BYO (bring your own.) You can bring anything they don't serve including wine, beer, French fries, side salads etc. For side's, they offer coleslaw, bags of potato chips and at the end, they have cups of gelato! I am definitely guilty of eating lots of gelato at work, but don't tell anybody!

So what makes the Lobster roll so amazing? Lobster Landing serves only hot lobster, not cold. They serve their lobster rolls European style, which means they don't have mayo on them. They use fresh lobster meat, steamed and cut that day in their roles. Each roll contains a quarter of a pound of heated lobster meat. After the lobster is put in the roll, fresh lemon is squeezed on it. Then, warm melted butter is poured over the top of the roll. Lobster Landing also offers a gluten-free option for those who need it!

Not only are the Lobster rolls the greatest of all time, the environment and view is also incredible. They have ocean side seating. The upper deck next to their famous building is built over the water. You can sit anywhere at the restaurant and have a beautiful view of Connecticut oceans. The breeze that comes off the water is perfect for a hot summer day. Lobster Landing is built right next to a marina so there's always boats passing by with eager people waving to their wonderful customers.

One of the main attractions of Lobster Landing is the building itself. The building has been here for a very long time and has survived large storms, hurricanes, floods etc. This rustic building is very beautiful and you'll often see people taking pictures of it or in front of it. I've even seen prom pictures, wedding pictures, and special occasion photos being taken in front of the building.

Lobster Landing offers such a nice environment for its employees and it is always so much fun to work there. The customers are always so nice and talkative, and it is always wonderful to see the regulars that are there almost every week! If you haven't tried a lobster roll here, you seriously need to, it's worth it!
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