Are the Bundaberg brewed soft drinks halal?

Bundaberg expanded its line of soft drinks from ginger beer to flavours such as traditional lemonade, apple cider, guava, passionfruit, peach, mango, and more. Normally one would not think twice about the permissibility of soft drinks, but the word “brewed” is used describing the preparation process of the Bundaberg line.

In order to answer this question, we need to look at the brewing process. Bundaberg describes this process as: “Our manufacturing process uses natural yeast which feed on sugars and ferments the ‘brew’ to be used as a base for our beverages. Alcohol is a by-product of this fermentation process. Before we fill the product into bottles we heat the brew to above 70 degrees C. to kill the yeast, halt the fermentation process, and remove the alcohol. After this heating process all of our products have a residual alcohol level of less than 0.5%. It is this manufacturing process, and the natural brew component in our beverages which adds the flavour profile unique to our products.”

There are a couple of important points to consider here. First, the drinks become alcoholic and then the alcohol is removed by heat. Do the drinks become najis when they become alcoholic and then does heating them remove the najasat? Second, a small amount of alcohol remains (less than 0.5%). Does fall under the prohibition of consuming alcohol?

To answer the first point we must examine the maraja’s rulings about the najasat of alcohol. Sayyid Sistani considers wine derived from grapes to be najis and beer made from barely which causes low levels of intoxication to be najis, according to obligatory precaution. Therefore, najasat does not seem to be an issue for him. Najasat would be an issue for other maraja’ who consider all alcoholic beverages to be najis.

On a side not here, Sayyid Sistani, when asked about alcohol-free beer states: “It [it] is produced alcohol free in the first place is not called beer there is no problem, or else, it is forbidden even alcohol is separated from it.”

To answer the second point, consuming any amount of alcohol would be prohibited, unless the maraja’ give an exception. Here, Sayyid Sistani states that it is permissible to eat food with minute amounts of alcohol left over after cooking. If other maraja’ do not give this exception their followers would not be able to consume such food.

Thus, it seems like the beverage would be permissible for the followers of Sayyid Sistani. Disclaimer: Grace Wellbeing is not a representative of Sayyid Sistani and any jurisprudential rulings should be sourced from his office.

But, for other maraja’ who consider all alcoholic beverages to be najis or who do not give the exception for consuming minor amounts of alcohol, these drinks would be problematic.

*Special Note: the Apple Cider drink also contains gelatin. Maybe we will cover the rulings surrounding gelatin in another post.

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