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i thought kosher gelatine was simply gelatine from animals murdered by the kosher standards? No where have I heard that it is plant gelatine. If it were specified as Parve gelatin, then perhaps it would be fish gelatin ..

Well, the only thing the K can mean for certain when refering to gelatine is that it can't come from pigs.

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What is in Kosher Gelatin today?

Dear Mushroom and all other forum members - Greetings. I am a first time reader and this is my first post on the VeggieBoards forum

I think am glad to see Emes is back on the market, if it really is back and if it is actually vegan. I did not know the company was back in business after their major fire. If it has been rebuilt and under the same (or perhaps new management) it may still be vegan. However, here is my personal and up to this point researched history with Emes.

In 1976 I wrote to Emes and got this reply: Many think we make our Kosher Gelatin from the hooves of donkeys, cows, pigs, etc.; we do not. We only use the ears and tails under proper rabbinic supervision. These are so extremely processed that they are no longer considered to be meat and therefore can be eaten or used with milk products.

The owner thought my concern was not based on vegetarianism, but rather the rabbinic proscription (derived by long stretches of the (IMHO) over-cautious imagination) based on Exodus 23:19; 34:26; & Deut.14:21, all of which state, "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk." Tradition extends this to any combination of meat and milk. By a further oddity of tradition, based on one prominent rabbinic counsel, this was extended to chickens, and later to all fowl, even though birds themselves do not produce milk.

Over-cautious or not, this tradition works in strong favor of the vegetarian, although not so much for the vegan. Items marked with a genuinely orthodox rabbinic certification and appended with the designations D, Me (or ME), or Parve (variants: Parev or Pareve) can tell the customer quite a bit about what is likely to be found in their foods.

Two major schools of rabbinic thought divide over the issue of the use of meat and dairy at the same time, at the same meal, or even on dishes or cookware ever used for one or the other item. Liberal, and even some calling themselves moderate or conservative rabbis, consider even non-kosher meat products to no longer be meat or even unclean. This occurs when flesh items are totally dead and dried for over a year or until they (for reasons that escape me) reach a point where those rabbis consider them to no longer be nutritious enough to be considered food. Most Orthodox rabbinical schools of thought consider anything unclean to always remain unclean and anything that ever was meat to still be meat no matter how processed or old it gets.

GOOD NEWS concerning Emes: In around 2000 I was getting reports that the Vegetarian Times was calling Emes vegan or at least vegetarian. I again contacted Emes. This time I was delighted to discover that the son of the man I had talked and corresponded with in the '70's had taken over and had changed to all products to pectin (from fruit), seaweed (agar & carrageenan), and locust bean gum (carob) formulas. To my horror, a few years later Emes was not on the shelf in my stores. With a little searching I discovered that the Lombard, IL plant had burned to the ground and likely would never be rebuilt.

Doing a little research just now, it seems that by the middle of that decade many articles appeared on the Internet that still questioned the vegan or even vegetarian standing of Emes. It seems to me that this was after the fire. So I do not know if it was a case of the son not being honest or a rebuild, new management, or a buy-out of trusted brand name, something else, or just old outdated Web-chatter. According to two sources (2005 and 2007) the company (rebuilt or taken over by another plant?) was under investigation for fraud and review by the FDA because their products (in particular their marshmallows) were being advertised as vegetarian, when they were actually not. See and the later of these is a link to a CNBC expose of the company.

Internet searches finally produced a company started in 2001 in Maryland named Emes Foods, Inc. whether this is the same or a derivative or spin-off or the Lombard, Illinois firm, I do not know. The information for Emes Foods is:

"Emes Foods Inc
India Foods
1 Holton Lane
Takoma Park, MD 20912

Phone: (301) 434-9000

A privately held company in Takoma Park, MD. Categorized under Groceries and Related Products, Nec. Our records show it was established in 2001 and incorporated in Maryland. Current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of 230000 and employs a staff of approximately 3."

ACCESSED 141025 at:


So, the bottom line is that I am still researching this. I understand that Emes is not the only one to reportedly produce a kosher version of gelatin or gelatin alternative. For years I have not purchased any products with any kind of gelatin. In my own cooking, I always directly use starches, agar-agar, or pectin for gelling and thickening purposes; in-other-words I skip the questionable middle-men and pretty much know what is in the food I make. Eventually, I will get to the "bottom" of the kettle of, often fish based as well as plant based products (or so I am currently led to believe) and get back to you here with the real "bottom-line." Or at least it will be the bottom line for that present time; things are always changing in the market place known as reality.

One more note for those who are vegetarians, but not purely vegans, do not trust implicitly products marked as kosher with simply a K (since anyone can use that to designate their own opinion of what is kosher) nor trust what I use to think was fine, the K in a circle. I have discovered that the circled K people are liberal and certify even unclean animal sources as non-meat (parve or parev) if they pass their "long enough dead" test. For those who do not mind a little (often very little, to the point of simply being in the same processing plant, but not a real ingredient in the product) milk or butter in their foods, look for the U in a circle (Union of Orthodox Rabbis) or the CRB (Chicago Rabbinical Council) or many others who are orthodox to find products that contain nothing even remotely derived from a meat source other than occasionally biblically clean fish. So even with these certifications, this is the one ingredient you will still need to check the labels for if (like me) you are trying to avoid all "faced and mother derived" sources in their diet.

BEST NEWS FOR VEGETARIANS: Items marked with the added designations and what they mean for us as vegetarians.

If a product has an orthodox rabbinic seal with no additional marks it means it contains no unclean animal sources and no milk products or bi-products. It may still contain meat.

With an orthodox seal plus "D" this means no animal meat products or meat bi-products at all, no matter how much they have been processed or contained in additives. This is what, in other so called kosher products without the orthodox rabbinic seal, might be hidden in chemical names which could otherwise come from a variety of sources. The only catch here is that the orthodox will still allow for the use of fish with fins and scales (clean fish); so label checking and a knowledge of chemistry terms is helpful. For vegans there is another catch, this product is designated as containing some milk or milk derived product.

With an orthodox seal plus "Me" (or ME) the meaning is the same as with a "D" except that the milk may or may not be present. If it is present, it is not there as an intended ingredient. The designation means that the product was processed in a plant or on equipment that also processed dairy items. Not great, but better news for vegans.

Pareve (or equivalents) means that no milk or meat are present at all. For the orthodox this does not preclude clean fish. For the less than orthodox, this designation will likely also include the addition of items sufficiently processed to an "indistinguishable" chemical point (by time, decay, or synthetic processing) at which much high level forensic testing would be required to discover the difference between the chemical components derived from animal sources and plant based ones, if any differences could be determined at all. This does not preclude the presence of prions or other contaminants found in meat or gardening using animal based fertilizers. At liberal levels of kosherness, the items may still be easily determined as sourced from meats, but just be chemically different from their fresh sources.

PERSONALLY, I will eat a limited amount of dairy even though I prefer nut or bean milks for both drinking and cooking. I am not a total vegan, but consider myself a "mostly vegan vegetarian." I totally avoid gelatins, glycerin (unless known to be vegetable sourced), carmine (by its various names and color number), all unclean foods regardless of age or processing, all fish and animal sea foods, and clean meats of any kind -- even in any medications, supplements, or soaps, shampoos, detergents (all items that absorb into the skin), and other products I use that directly touch my body. The one exception to this I make is that I will, if otherwise unavoidable without substitute, use externally only, minerals with obvious animal origins such as petroleum oils, talc, etc.

I WILL hope to get back to you when I have time to discover more on this.
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