Halal gelatin is a type of gelatin that is made from other sources that conform to the precepts of Islamic Law, which include a ban on using any pig products. This particular gelatin performs the exact same functions as normal pig-based gelatin. Halal gelatin is an important part of foods, cosmetics, photography and in the creation of some types of paper.
When it comes to food products that are acceptable or unacceptable for Muslims to consume, two words crop up again and again: halal and haram. Halal means lawful and haram means forbidden. There are strict rules concerning how animals must be slaughtered and what products cannot find their way into foods. Gelatin poses a particularly interesting issue for the halal diet, as it is often extracted from the bones and skins of pigs.
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There are two points of debate about whether gelatin is halal. First, if the gelatin uses pig bones, then it is automatically not halal. The second point is potentially more nebulous. Muslims are forbidden from eating carrion, and if the bones do not count as carrion, they must be from an animal slaughtered according to Islamic Law.
The halal status of gelatin is an important point for Muslims because a large number of desserts, as well as some other food products, contain gelatin. For example, a Muslim must think twice about desserts such as ice cream, cheesecakes and parfaits unless they contain halal gelatin. The same can be said of many cakes, chocolates, puddings and candies. The only way Muslims can make certain the product contains gelatin that is halal is if the product is specifically stamped as halal.
One way for Muslims to be certain that gelatin is halal is to buy vegetarian-friendly gelatin. A large number of products have converted their production methods to use vegetarian-friendly gelatin in order to broaden the appeal of their products without having to drastically alter the product itself. This means vegetarian-friendly desserts like cheesecakes and ice cream will contain halal gelatin.
Another alternative is to buy gelatin from specific halal gelatin producers. These gelatins can be made from cows sacrificed to Allah or plants without any pork contamination. Halal gelatin products are limited but continually being researched.