Is E211 Halal or Haram?

featured - Is E211 Halal or Haram?

E211 is a common food additive that has raised some concerns over whether it is halal. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive into what exactly E211 is, how it’s made, its health effects, regulations, dosage, and most importantly – if it’s halal or haram.

Key Takeaways

📌 E211 Overview: E211 is sodium benzoate, a common food additive used as a preservative and antimicrobial agent in various foods, beverages, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
📌 Safety: It’s generally safe for most people when consumed in small amounts as allowed by health regulatory agencies. Some individuals may experience mild side effects or allergic reactions.
📌 Halal Status: E211 is considered halal by many Islamic organizations, especially when sourced from plants. Products with halal certification provide added assurance.

What Is E211?

E211 is the food additive sodium benzoate. It is the sodium salt of benzoic acid and has the chemical formula C7H5NaO2.

Sodium benzoate is a white, odorless powder that is soluble in water. It is used as a preservative and antimicrobial agent in a variety of foods, beverages, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

Some common examples of foods containing E211 as a preservative include jarred food products, jams, fruit juices, pickles, soft drinks, and sauces. It is also found in cosmetic products like creams and makeup.

Chemical Structure

The chemical structure of sodium benzoate (E211) consists of a benzene ring with a carboxyl group (COOH) attached. The sodium ion (Na+) replaces the hydrogen in the carboxyl group to form the sodium salt.

This arrangement gives sodium benzoate its preservative properties. The benzene ring allows it to dissolve in fats and oils, while the sodium salt makes it soluble in water.

What Is E211 Made From?

Sodium benzoate or E211 can be produced synthetically by combining benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide, sodium bicarbonate, or sodium carbonate. The benzoic acid used in this process is commonly derived from plants.

Some natural sources of benzoic acid include:

  • Gum benzoin resin – extracted from styrax trees
  • Balsamic resin – from various conifer trees
  • Benzoic acid root – the bark extract of several tree species
  • Cranberries
  • Plums
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves

So while synthetic methods are widely used, E211 can come from natural raw materials. This makes it more likely to be halal-certified, which we’ll explore next.

Possible Side Effects

In the amounts typically used in food, sodium benzoate is considered safe by health regulatory agencies like the FDA and EFSA. The acceptable daily intake (ADI) has been set at 5 mg per kg of body weight.

However, some individuals may experience allergic reactions or mild side effects from E211, such as:

  • Hives, redness, swelling
  • Asthma symptoms
  • Stomach pain, nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Increased hyperactivity (in children)

Consuming very large amounts of sodium benzoate at once could potentially cause more severe side effects. However, this is not a concern for normal dietary exposure to foods. Those sensitive to benzoate can avoid products containing E211.

Regulations and Guidelines

Sodium benzoate or E211 is approved for use as a food additive in over 100 countries. Maximum permitted levels depend on the specific food category.

For example, the Codex Alimentarius standard for food additives allows up to 500 mg/kg in jams and jellies and 150 mg/L for carbonated drinks.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also lists sodium benzoate as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) when used in accordance with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations 21 CFR 184.1733.

So governments confirm sodium benzoate is safe at specified levels for food preservation. Manufacturers follow these limits during production.

Dosage and Administration

The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has set the ADI for sodium benzoate at 0-5 mg/kg of body weight. This is the maximum amount considered safe for daily consumption over a lifetime.

To achieve effective preservation, sodium benzoate is commonly added at concentrations between 0.05 to 0.1% in foods. Levels can range higher in certain products up to around 0.2%.

The allowed dosage depends on the food type and country regulations. Manufacturers follow prescribed limits that provide optimal antimicrobial efficacy while remaining within safe intake levels.

Is E211 Halal or Haram?

The main factors in determining if E211 is halal or haram are:

  • Source – Since it can be derived from plant-based benzoic acid, E211 can be halal if from the right origin.
  • Usage -Sodium benzoate acts as a preservative, which is considered halal. It’s not consumed itself but protects food.

Therefore, E211 is considered halal by many Islamic organizations. Furthermore, for added assurance, you may seek out products containing this ingredient with halal certification labels.

Find out more:
Is E210 Halal or Haram?
Is E212 Halal or Haram?


Sodium benzoate or E211 is a common preservative in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. It is safe for most people at allowed levels.

E211 can be halal when sourced from plants. But as with any additive, individuals must make their own informed decisions. When in doubt, do your research and consume E211 in moderation.

Allahu A’lam (Allah Knows Best)


What is the source of E211?

E211 can come from natural sources like gum benzoin resin, tree bark extract, and fruits like cranberries. But it is also made synthetically by combining benzoic acid with sodium hydroxide or similar solutions.

Is E211 safe for consumption?

Yes, health authorities like the FDA and EFSA approve sodium benzoate as generally safe in the small amounts used as food preservatives. While sensitive individuals may react, it does not pose risks when intake limits are followed.

What are some common food products that contain E211?

Sauces, jams, soft drinks, juices, pickles, margarine, processed meats, snack foods, powdered drinks, and other packaged foods often contain E211 as an antimicrobial preservative.

What is the CAS number of E211?

The CAS registry number for sodium benzoate is 532-32-1. This provides the unique chemical identifier for the additive E211.

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