Is Starburst HALAL or HARAM in UK and USA? (2024)

Safiya Rahman

March 08, 2024
Is Starburst halal or haram for Muslims?

Starburst, with its chewy texture and variety of fruit flavors, has long been a favourite among candy lovers for years. However, for individuals on a strict halal diet, the question of whether Starburst products are halal or haram (permissible or prohibited) remains a topic of interest and debate.

In this article, we delve into the ingredients list to see whether there are any haram ingredients, manufacturing process, and insights from Islamic scholars to determine the halal status of Starburst candies in both the United Kingdom and the United States.

Who makes Starburst? 🏭

Starburst, a well-known candy brand, is produced by the Wrigley Company, a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated an American multinational. With its popularity spanning across the globe, Starburst products are commonly found on grocery store shelves in various countries, including the UK and the USA.

Starburst candies getting manufactured in a specialist factory

Which ingredients does Starburst contain? 📖

Starburst chewy candies boasts a flavourful, fruity profile, attributed to their unique combination of sometimes controversial ingredients. Key components often found in Starburst candy include corn syrup, corn starch, sugar, palm oil, palm fat, and artificial flavors. These ingredients contribute to the fruity flavors that have become synonymous with the brand.

The most controversial ingredient found in Starburst is gelatin and we will discuss its importance in the halal versus haram debate below, as it relates to animal products . 

Starburst ingredients and nutritional information

The difference between USA and UK Starburst 🇬🇧

It's important to note that there can be variations between Starburst products available in different regions. For instance, Starburst candies in the United Kingdom were once known as "Opal Fruits" before being rebranded. Whilst overall core ingredients remain relatively consistent between the two versions there are some notable differences:

USA Starburst Ingredients List: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil; Less than 2% of: Apple Juice from Concentrate, Citric Acid, Tapioca Dextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Gelatin, Modified Corn Starch, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Colors (Red 40, Yellow 6, Yellow 5

UK Starburst Ingredient List: Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Palm Fat, Concentrated Fruit Juices 1.4%* (Apple, Orange, Blackcurrant, Strawberry, Lime, Lemon) *Equivalent to 11.5% Fruit Juice, Citric Acid, Modified Starch, Malic Acid, Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Antioxidant Ascorbic Acid, Emulsifier Lecithin, Anthocyanins, Beta-Carotene, Spirulina Extract

Notably Starburst in the UK does not contain gelatin or carnauba wax.

Gelatin getting manufactured for candies using animal products

Is gelatin halal or haram? 🐄

One of the most controversial ingredients in candy is gelatin. Gelatin is commonly used as a gelling agent in many chewy candies, including Starburst. Traditionally, gelatin is derived from animal collagen, often sourced from animal bones, skin, and connective tissues. This leads to concerns for individuals seeking halal food products due to the potential presence of non-halal animal-derived ingredients.

It was previously confirmed that the gelatin used in Starburst is beef gelatin derived from cows. However, on a more recent audio call shared with Crescent Days, a Mars spokesperson confirmed that the gelatin used in Starburst is either from beef or pork. If the product contained only beef gelatin, it would still be likely that this beef gelatin had been obtained from animals not slaughtered according to Islamic law and therefore not a halal animal, rendering Starburst a haram food.

However as Starburst in the US potentially contains haram pork products it is clear that this candy is not halal.

Does vegan Starburst exist? 🌱

For those who lead a vegan lifestyle or have dietary restrictions related to animal products, the search for suitable candy options can be challenging. While some candies are made with non-animal-derived, vegan ingredients, it's important to read the ingredient list to ensure adherence to one's dietary requirements.

The UK version of Starburst does not contain any animal products and there is a vegan-friendly option for the vegan community, eliminating animal-derived ingredients.

Islamic scholar evaluating the Halal status of Starburst

What do Islamic scholars think? 👳🏽‍♂️

The halal status of food products is a matter of consideration for many modern Muslims, and Islamic scholars play a pivotal role in guiding individuals' dietary choices.

When it comes to Starburst candies, the presence of potentially haram ingredients, such as beef gelatin, raises concerns. To address these concerns, individuals often seek guidance from knowledgeable scholars who specialise in Islamic dietary laws.

According to IslamQA:

“If the gelatin is derived from something haram, such as pork or the skin, bones etc. of pigs, then it is haram. Allah, may He be exalted, says (interpretation of the meaning): “Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maytatah (the dead animals - cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood, the flesh of swine” [al-Maidah 5:3]

It is not permissible to consume foods, drinks and medicines that contain gelatin derived from the skin of pigs or other impure substances, especially when alternatives are available in the form of animals which Allah has permitted. It is possible to manufacture gelatin from these animals that are slaughtered in the prescribed manner, and it will serve the same purpose in manufacturing medicine or food.

Gelatin is often made of pig skin

So, is Starburst halal? 🤔

The halal certification process involves a comprehensive assessment of ingredients, manufacturing processes, and overall compliance with Islamic dietary laws. Unfortunately, the matter is not as simple as checking a single ingredient. Many factors, including the source of gelatin, the amount of alcohol, and the presence of animal-derived products, must be evaluated to determine the halal status of a product. Some sweets like Sour Patch Kids don't use any haram products in their manufacturing.

While the fruity and natural flavors of Starburst can be tempting, due to the inclusion of beef gelatin in the ingredients list in the USA, American versions of Starburst would be haram.

However, the UK version of the popular candy which does not include gelatin contains only halal ingredients and therefore would make Starburst halal.

This is a similar conclusion to whether Haribo Gummy Bears are halal as it depends on the source of gelatin used or not used in the production process.

Which other Starburst products are halal or haram? ✍️

  • Starburst Minis Fruit Chews – halal
  • Fave Reds Starburst Fruit Chews – contains gelatin
  • Airs Original Starburst Gummies – contains gelatin
  • Sours Gummies Candy – contains gelatin
  • Airs Sour Tropical Gummies – contains gelatin
  • Duos Fruit Chews Candy – contains gelatin
  • Original Gummies Candy – contains gelatin
  • Sours Mini Fruit Chews – halal
  • Starburst Jelly Beans – halal
  • Other: Sour Patch Kids - halal
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