Gelatin

Gelatin is probably the most controversial of all modern kosher ingredients. Gelatin can be derived from pork skin, beef bones, or beef skin. In recent years, some fish gelatins have also appeared. As a food ingredient, fish gelatin has many similarities to beef and pork gelatin. Depending on the species from which the fish, skins are obtained, its melting point can vary over a much wider range of melting points than beef or pork gelatin. This may offer some unique opportunities.

Currently available gelatins—even if called "kosher"— are not acceptable to the mainstream kosher supervisory organizations. A recent production of gelatin from the hides of kosher-slaughtered cattle has been available in limited supply at great expense and is accepted by the mainstream kosher supervisory agencies and some of the stricter ones.

Attitudes about gelatin certification vary greatly among the lenient kosher supervisory agencies. The most liberal view holds that gelatin, being made from bones and skin, is not being made from a food (flesh). Further, the process used to make the product goes through a stage where the product is so "unfit" for consumption that it is not edible by man or dog, thus becoming a new entity. (Rabbis holding this view may accept pork gelatin.) Most gelatin desserts with a generic "K" follow this ruling.

Other rabbis only permit gelatin from beef bones and hides but not pork. Other rabbis will only accept "India dry bones" as a source of beef gelatin. These bones, found naturally in India (because of the Hindu custom of not using cattle) are aged for over a year and are "dry as wood"; additional religious laws exist for permitting these materials. Again, none of these products is accepted by the "mainstream" kosher supervisions, rendering them unacceptable to a significant portion of the kosher community.

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