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 it's 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. »
"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..."»
Shalom and Regards,
There are a variety of different kinds and sources of gelatin. Some come from unkosher slaughtered animals, while others are made from fish or other sources. As a result, Gelatin should always have a kosher mark to be considered kosher.
You will note that this is a question that doesn’t have a completely firm and fixed response when answered from a Halachic (Jewish law) perspective, as is seen in the excellent responses of my colleagues. The answer can vary, depending on the theory with which one approaches the status of gelatin (or some other products that are sometimes manufactured from differing materials).
When giving more weight to the source of the ingredients (animal, vegetable, artificial), the answer may be one thing, while an answer based on giving more weight to the procedures and techniques involved (chemical processes, physical and chemical composition and breakdown, etc.), the answer may be different. That is why it is possible to find some marshmallows that are marked as Kosher for Passover, but they are not all accepted universally by those who follow the rules of Kashrut.
Gelatin conceptually in and of itself is not unkosher.
Traditionally, it is determined to be kosher or not depending on the source.
Gelatin from a pig would not be kosher.
Gelatin from a cow could be kosher – but it would raise the concern about how it was prepared, and if the animal was slaughtered according to kosher standards. It would also raise the further question as to whether it was meat or not for use in various recipes, following the concern of maintaining a separation of meat and dairy products in Kosher observance.
Gelatin from a fish or a plant would also likely be kosher (if it was a kosher fish), and would not be considered meat or dairy, so might be usable with either.
Gelatin manufactured from completely artificial sources (chemically produced in a factory vat from raw materials that are not derived from fish, meat, or plants) would also likely be considered kosher, and would not be considered meat or dairy.
Responding to you from a strictly Reform perspective, the answer once again is not entirely clear.
There are Reform Jews who do not follow the rules of Kashrut at all, or at least, not in this matter, and for them, there is effectively no question to answer – they would find any gelatin from any source acceptable for use.
There are other Reform Jews who do follow the rules of Kashrut, at least to some degree or in some fashion.
Among them, there are Reform Jews who would accept that the processes change the nature of the material to such a degree that the source is irrelevant, and they would accept gelatin from any source as usable for their purposes. Their reasoning is different than the group that does not follow the rules of Kashrut, but the effect may be the same.
Another subset is those Reform Jews who do follow the rules of Kashrut, and who would be concerned with the source of the ingredients. For these people, if it is a non-kosher source, they would not accept it, if it is a kosher source, they would.
So even among the Reform Jews (perhaps it would be better to say ‘among Progressive Jews’), there are some/many who would say yes to your question, but there are still some who would say no.
Thus, you have a very rabbinic answer – ‘It depends.’ :-)
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