Is Kosher Gelatin & Beef Gelatin Halal?

Photo Courtesy: Lea Aharonovitch

Kosher gelatin is halal (permissible) to eat if it meets certain conditions. These are: the source of the gelatin must not be forbidden in Islam, and the animal is slaughter by ‘ahl-il-kitab’ (a muslim or Jew) since jews follow similar slaughtering guidelines as muslims (source).

Table of Contents:

1. What Is Kosher Gelatin?
2. Which Foods Contain Kosher Gelatin?
3. Is Kosher Gelatin Halal?
4. Halal & Kosher Gelatin Options
5. What Type Of Gelatin Is Halal?
6. Does Kosher Gelatin Contain Pork?
7. Fatwa About Kosher Gelatin Being Halal
8. What is beef gelatin?
9. Which foods contain beef gelatin?
10. Is it halal to consume food containing beef gelatin?
11. What is the Islamic ruling on beef gelatin?
12. Alternatives to Beef Gelatin

What Is Kosher Gelatin?

Kosher gelatin is protein-based extract typically derived from animal collagen that is permissible for people of the Jewish faith to consume (learn more about halal collagen supplements).

All food products, including gelatin, must comply with the Hebrew dietary rules to be fit for consumption for followers of the Jewish faith. Food that complies with Hebrew dietary guidelines is deemed “kosher”. Kosher gelatin thus refers to gelatin that meets these requirements.

What exactly are these requirements, though? Well, the Jewish laws that define kosher food are known as the kashrut. However, these laws are many, and they are subject to differences in scholarly opinion. Thus, Jews differ in their understanding of how certain foods are classified.

Most Jews agree that pork, frogs, and shellfish do not meet the requirements outlined in the Torah and as such, are not kosher. However, common livestock such as sheep, goat, and cattle are generally considered kosher, provided they are slaughtered in accordance with shechita guidelines.

Shechita is a method Jews follow for slaughtering mammals and birds; in this practice, Jews cannot consume the animal’s blood. The blood is instead removed from the meat by salting the meat and soaking it in water. Jews also believe that dairy-based foods must never be mixed with meat-based foods. Otherwise, they will no longer be considered kosher.

Which Foods Contain Kosher Gelatin?

Gelatin acts as both a solidifier and a thickening agent, and thus has plenty of uses in food. Gelatin is used in:

Kosher gelatin is typically used in products that are marketed to the Jewish community. This is because manufacturing kosher gelatin is costly (source), and products containing kosher gelatin are relatively more expensive.

Is Kosher Gelatin Halal?

Kosher gelatin is halal (permissible) if it satisfies two conditions:

  1. The first condition is that the source of the gelatin must not be forbidden in Islam. For example, Muslims are forbidden to eat pig, and thus, gelatin derived from pig is not halal. Fortunately, kosher gelatin is most commonly derived from fish collagen, which is permissible to eat in Islam.
  2. If the gelatin is derived from, say, cattle, is slaughtered by ‘ahl-il-kitab’ (A muslim or Jew) then it is considered permissible (source). This is because the orthdox Jews follow similar strict guidelines when slaughtering meat.

    Alternatively, if the gelatin is derived from fish collagen, then it is halal irrespective of how the fish died.

If these two conditions are met, then the kosher gelatin is considered halal to eat. However, there are cases where kosher gelatin is not halal. This is due to a difference of opinion amongst Jewish rabbis about what is considered food.

Some rabbis believe that gelatin is not food (source). The reason behind this is that during the making of gelatin, the substance is treated with acid, rendering it inedible. This fails a common Jewish test that considers anything that is inedible for a dog to not be food. Thus, some rabbis believe that gelatin is not food, and cannot be non-kosher.

For these reasons, there is gelatin available in the market labelled as kosher without any consideration of the animal species or the method of slaughter. So, it’s quite possible for gelatin labeled as kosher to not be halal.

What Type Of Gelatin Is Halal?

The largest source for gelatin is pigskin which is strictly forbidden for consumption in Islam. However, there are gelatins available that are derived from halal sources such as bovines and even fish.

In the case of bovines, the animal must be slaughtered as per Islamic guidelines for the derived gelatin to be halal to consume.

Halal & Kosher Gelatin Options

1- Agar Agar

Agar agar – the ‘vegan’ gelatin. Agar agar (link to Amazon) is derived from seaweed, and is thus halal to consume. It is not technically gelatin, but is used as a vegan substitute for gelatin.

2- Fish Gelatin

Fish gelatin. Fish gelatin (link to Amazon) is derived from fish collagen, typically extracted from the skin of fish. Fish gelatin is halal to consume as fish are exempt from Islamic slaughtering requirements.

Does Kosher Gelatin Contain Pork?

Photo Courtesy: byronv2

According to Judaism, kosher meat is any meat taken from an animal that has split hooves and chews on its cud. This includes cows, goats, and sheep. As pigs do not meet this criteria, kosher gelatin doesn’t typically contain pork.

However, as we mentioned earlier, some rabbis classify don’t classify gelatin as food. Thus, they believe that gelatin cannot be non-kosher, and label gelatin derived from pork as kosher.

Fatwa About Kosher Gelatin Being Halal

Islamic scholars agree that kosher gelatin is generally halal to consume. However, due to the difference of opinion amongst rabbis about whether or not gelatin is food, certain types of gelatins may be considered kosher without meeting the standards of Islamic guidelines. As such, scholars advise us to proceed with caution and evaluate the kosher gelatin on a case by case basis.

Maulana Mustafa Umar shared his understanding of the matter (source):

Kosher gelatin has different meanings according to different groups of Jews. If the gelatin comes from a properly slaughtered animal, a fish, or from vegetable sources, then it will be permissible. If it comes from improperly slaughtered animals according to Islamic guidelines] or from pork sources, then it will not be allowed.

Here is an excerpt to explain how different the standards are: “The VRG contacted four major kosher certifying agencies that certify kosher food products in the United States today—Star-K, OK, the Orthodox Union (OU), and KOF-K—to clarify the meaning of kosher gelatin. These four agencies are considered “normative mainstream” by J.M. Regenstein, a Jewish food technologist who has published extensively on kosher food laws.

Star-K said, ‘Kosher gelatin is derived from kosher animal sources… from kosher slaughtered and processed bovine sources or from kosher species of fish’… The OK kosher certifying agency said, ‘Kosher gelatin is made from kosher fish and/or agar.’…There are other kosher-certifying agencies that will certify as kosher food products containing pig-derived gelatin. Ko Kosher of Philadelphia is one such agency. They certify products from more than 200 companies, including General Mills, Hershey Foods, Jelly Belly, and GNC.

According to Rabbi Novoseller of Ko Kosher, gelatin is not a food. At one time during its processing, when the bones and hides of animals are treated with acid during the gelatin extraction process, gelatin was not food. In fact, it was “inedible even to a dog,” referring to a commonly known Jewish test of what is or is not a food. According to Jewish dietary laws, “If something is not a food, it cannot be non-kosher.” Therefore, according to Rabbi Novoseller, gelatin is kosher, regardless of animal species and slaughter method.”

Therefore, since there are no universal standards on what defines ‘kosher gelatin’, each certification must be looked into in detail.

Only Allah knows best
Written by Maulana Mustafa Umar
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

What is Beef Gelatin?

Gelatin is a colorless, flavorless substance derived from collagen – a fibrous protein found abundantly in animal bone, skin, connective tissue, and sinew. Beef gelatin is gelatin that is specifically obtained from cattle.

Which Foods Contain Beef Gelatin?

Gelatin is widely used in the making of confectionaries, such as sweets. Here are a few examples:

  • Jellies & candies – Haribo gummy bears & Starburst
  • Ice cream
  • Chocolate
  • Desserts (snacks) – Rice Krispies
  • Jam
  • It is also used in dairy products (it pairs well with milk proteins and helps improve the texture) and meat products.  

Is it Halal to Consume Food Containing Beef Gelatin?

For food to be halal to consume, all of its ingredients must be halal. Beef gelatin is only halal to consume if the animal from which it was obtained has been slaughtered in the Islamic way. If the animal has not been slaughtered as per Islamic guidelines, then the derived gelatin, and any food which contains the gelatin, are not halal to eat.

However, there are foods in the market that contain halal beef gelatin that are permissible for muslims to eat, here are a couple:

1- Halal Crispy Treats, Marshmallow and Crispy Rice

Halal crispy treats, made by Barakat Foods, is a great halal alternative to the everyday brand of Rice Krispy. The Gelatin used to make these treats are 100% Halal (also says so on the packaging).It’s also made with halal marshmallows.

Check out Barakat Foods’ Halal Rice Crispy on Amazon (link to Amazon)

2- Annie’s Organic Original Crispy Snack Bars

Check out Annie’s Foods’ Halal Rice Crispy on Amazon (link to Amazon)

3- Ziyad Halal Marshmallows

Check out Ziyad Halal Marshmallows on Amazon (link to Amazon)

What is the Islamic Ruling on Beef Gelatin?

Islamic scholars agree unanimously that if the animal from which the gelatin is derived was slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines, then the gelatin is halal to consume. In response to the question ‘Is beef gelatin halal?’, Maulana Nabil Khan responded stating (source):

“If the cow had been slaughtered according to Shariah then there would be no harm in eating it and it would be considered halal. However, if the cow was not slaughtered according to the rules of Shariah then the gelatin will be haram.

Some scholars have argued that Qalb Al-Mahiyah (metamorphosis) has occurred in the production of gelatin. However many senior scholars have not considered it to follow all of the conditions. It is best to hold caution and refrain in this case.

Only Allah knows best”

Written by Maulana Nabil Khan

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah

Darul Ifta Birmingham

In the second paragraph of the Maulana’s response, he discussed how some scholars argued that gelatin has undergone a change. This pertains to an understanding primarily carried by Hanafi scholars, known as Istihalah. This refers to a process by which the complete physiochemical structure of a substance is altered, and a haram substance is believed to be made halal.

Most scholars agree that gelatin does not go through the process of Istihalah, at least not fully. Therefore, unless beef gelatin is derived from an animal slaughtered in the Islamic way, it is considered haram by the majority opinion of Islamic scholars.

Alternatives to Beef Gelatin

In the US and most of the Western world, large manufacturers produce gelatin primarily from cattle and pigs, both of which are haram to consume (granted the cattle is not slaughtered in the halal way). Fortunately, there are some types of gelatin that are halal including:

1- Agar Agar

Agar agar – the ‘vegan’ gelatin. Agar agar (link to Amazon) is derived from seaweed, and is thus halal to consume. It is not technically gelatin, but is used as a vegan substitute for gelatin.

2- Fish Gelatin

Fish gelatin. Fish gelatin (link to Amazon) is derived from fish collagen, typically extracted from the skin of fish. Fish gelatin is halal to consume as fish are exempt from Islamic slaughtering requirements.

Final Word

Whether kosher gelatin is halal or not depends on what criteria is used to classify it as kosher. If the kosher gelatin adheres to Islamic guidelines, then it is halal to consume. Before buying any kosher gelatin, you can ask the brand about where they source their kosher gelatin from, and what preparation methods are used, to ensure it is halal to consume. In cases of doubt, it’s best to proceed with caution and avoid consuming the product.

Generally, it is not easy to confirm whether kosher gelatin is halal to eat, and so a safer option is to consider halal alternatives. This includes fish gelatin and the vegan-alternative ‘agar agar’.

In the West, especially the US, finding food produced from halal beef gelatin is difficult. For this reason, we advise readers to always check the packaging before purchasing any gelatin-containing substances. If the gelatin used is derived from fish or is vegan-friendly, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, if the source is not specified, it’s best to steer clear.

Some gelatin containing substances, such as Haribo gummy bears, may be sourced from Muslim countries and come with a halal label. You can check the packaging for the halal label – Haribo jellies that are made in Turkey contain halal gelatin, but ones produced in countries such as the U.S do not.

If you are in doubt about whether a product contains halal gelatin or not, then it’s best to stay on the side of caution and avoid it altogether.


Asya is a writer, academic coordinator, teacher, and mother of five. Being born a Muslim in Europe, Asya grew up learning about what foods and practices are halal, and which to avoid. When she's not working, Asya spends her free time reading, spending time with her family, and eating chocolate.

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