Consuming Alcohol in Foods in the Maliki School
Question: As salaam alaikum, In relation to the question about alcohol in bread, what is the Maliki opinion on ingredients like spirit, cider and balsamic vinegar and vanilla essence/extract in foods. I’ve been told that these are liquid intoxicants that affect the intellect (before being added to the food) and so, the entire food becomes impure. While it is easy to find out if food is vegetarian it is very difficult to find out if food has been prepared with mayonaise, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce etc, vanilla etc without being rude to hosts.
Answer: Balsamic vinegar and all other types of vinegar are considered pure in the Maliki madhab as they have lost the intoxicating ability of wine (Khalil, Al Mukhtasar). In terms of flavorings that use alcohol as a preservative, they are not pure according to the Maliki school and would make any food they contact filth. One thing to remember is that food is considered to be pure until proven impure.
In the Hanafi madhab, liquid intoxicants are not impure as long as they are not made from grapes. Thus you will find many Muslims who do not take issue with eating foods with alcohol based flavorings. Because this valid difference of opinion exists, one would not be able to prevent others from eating foods that have alcohol based flavorings in them. You may gently encourage them to leave matters there is a difference about.