Is Kosher Gelatin Halal?
IFANCA frequently receives inquiries about gelatin, especially Kosher gelatin. In yogurt, it is listed as Kosher gelatin in the ingredients on the label. In Jell-O dessert, gelatin is not listed as Kosher gelatin but the package (Jell-O) is labeled as Kosher, designated with letter “K.” Still in other products that are labeled as Kosher, gelatin may be present but not listed on the label.
Gelatin is a product of animal origin only, extracted from bones and skins of many animals or fish. There is no such thing as plant gelatin. Commercially, common sources of gelatin are Pork skins, Calf skins, Beef bones, Fish skins, and Field bones.
Gelatin is made by simmering the pieces of skins or bones in hot water to a solution that looks like chicken soup. This soupy solution is then dried into sheets or noodles and crushed into small pieces that look like sugar.
Most common type of gelatin used by the food industry is pork gelatin, due to its price advantage. Calf skin and beef bone gelatin are readily available but cost more than the pork gelatin for an equivalent gel grade. Moreover a very small amount of calf and beef gelatin comes from animals slaughtered by Muslims. Fish gelatin is available in small quantities. It is Halal by its nature but is very expensive. Field bones are picked up by scavengers from the fields or garbage and sold to junk dealers in South Asia. They become naturally degreased and dry in the fields and many Kosher groups prefer these over slaughter house bones. The problem with these bones is that bones of dead animals and Haram animals or even humans get entry into these bones.
Many Kosher groups believe that the process of extracting gelatin from bones or skins is such that the nature of product changes to a chemical form. Therefore many Kosher organizations certify and allow the use of their symbols such as “K” on the products containing pork gelatin. The product like “Jell-O” although marked Kosher, does actually contain pork gelatin. A few years ago, we printed a letter from General Foods, the manufacturer of Jell-O brand desserts. According to General Foods source, the Jell-O is Kosher and the source of gelatin is any animal that has been slaughtered for food purposes. This includes pork. Pork gelatin is merely dried soup from pork hides. It may be Kosher according to General Foods, but it is not Halal. We all know that pork is Haram, how then can dried up soup from pork skin be Halal?
Ask for Halal gelatin, certified by a reputable Islamic organization. Be aware that some Islamic organizations do approve pork gelatin as Halal.