Tuesday, 4 June 2013

JVO: Gelatin

Jewish Values Online is a website that presents the Jewish view on a variety of issues. Some of these issues are specifically Jewish, and some relate to the world around us --  then presents answers from each of the denominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster, Rabbi Wolpoe and Nishma's Founding Director, Rabbi Hecht, both serve as Orthodox members on their Panel of Scholars.

This post continues our series on the Nishmablog that features responses on JVO by one of our two Nishma Scholars who are on this panel. This week's presentation is about one of the questions to which Rabbi Wolpoe responded.

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Question: Is gelatin kosher?

At first glance, any Gelatin made with strictly Kosher ingredients would be considered as Kosher by almost everyone.
However, Gelatin made from Unkosher ingredients falls into a certain Gray Area.
Unkosher ingredients usually cannot make for a Kosher Product. The exceptions could include when the Unkosher ingredient has been completely "denatured" beyond being edible.  At the point that it is no longer edible, it is no longer considered to be food.  Later on this product, having lost its identify can be reconstituted as Kosher.
Thus, Gelatin - made even from Pork Products - may indeed become acceptable by this logic, namely that its original form has been lost or destroyed.
The problem with this approach is that one is not allowed to purposefully make a non-Kosher product into a Kosher one.  Thus, if a result of an accident, a "denatured" product could indeed be used, but it is problematic to make this happen intentionally.  So a plant carrying supervision could well fall into this category of intentionally making Unkosher Products Kosher.
On the one hand, the leading rabbinic authorities in North America EG R Moshe Feinstein, have opposed using Gelatin derived from Non-Kosher sources. On the other hand, many mainstream rabbis in Israel are inclined to permit it.
Google can be a helpful resource because many articles have been written on this very topic:
«Normally Gelatin is not considered Kosher but certain Kosher companies produce specially made Kosher 
Gelatin.According to Rabbi Dr. David Sheinkopf, Gelatin IS kosher. »
«How is gelatin made?
"The production of the gelatin starts w/refinement of collagen-bearing tissues of ANY ANIMAL that has raised and slaughtered for food purposes. ....These materials are carefully soaked in alkalies and/or acids and washed in clean water to remove almost all non-collagen constituents, including meat. During this soaking period the collagen is converted to gelatin. The treated materials are then cooked gently in pure water to extract the gelatin, which is further refined by filtration....(Contrary to common belief, gelatin is not manufactured from horns or hooves or meat of animals, for these do not contain the necessary collagen).
"It is interesting to note that during manufacture of gelatin, chemical changes take place so that, in the final gelatin product, the composition and identity of the orignal material is completely eliminated. Because of this, gelatin is not considered a meat food product by the United States government..."»

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