Monday, July 15, 2019

Gummi Worms, Gelatin and Jews

Today is Gummi Worm Day, celebrating the popular sweet and sour candy, which was created by the German confectionary company, Trolli. Gummy Bears were created in 1922 by another German candy company, Haribo.

One of the classic ingredients in gummi worms is gelatin, which is made by boiling in water the ligaments, bones and skin of animals. Gelatin is used as the basis of jelly, glue and other highly adhesive substances, like… gummi worms.

Most gelatins in the United States are made from the collagen (a group of fibrous proteins found in connective tissue fibrils and bones) from non-kosher animals. While there is a general principle that derivatives from a non-kosher animal are not kosher, the Talmud (Chullin 114a) states that one who cooks animal bones with milk has not violated the prohibition of cooking milk and meat, since bones are not considered meat on a Biblical level. This principle is codified in Jewish law. While the product of cooking milk with bones is considered to be prohibited by the rabbis, one can claim that the bone is completely inedible, and the product of the bone and milk may not be prohibited at all. As such, one of the leading rabbis of the early 20th century, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski of Vilna, permitted the consumption of gelatin from non-kosher animals, claiming the product is almost always nullified 60 to 1, in the kosher product (Achiezer, 3:33:5). Rabbi Ovadia Yosef concurred. Other sages dissented. Rabbi Aaron Kotler argued that taking the “gelatin” from the bones, reconstitutes the bone and renders it edible. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, widely considered the most prominent authority on Jewish law in the world until his death in 1986, agreed with Rabbi Kotler. Clearly, there are great sages on both sides.

Most U.S. kosher supervising agencies are stringent, respecting the positions of Rabbis Kotler and Feinstein. Of course, gelatin from non-meat sources, from kosher meat, or from kosher fish can be used. Today, kosher gummi worms are made mostly from fish gelatin.

So no worries, Jewish Treats readers. Enjoy your kosher gummi worms!

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