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Gelatin Capsules

Q. What is the cRc stand on products that have a gelatin exterior?

A. Gelatin capsules come in two forms: (a) hard gelatin capsules which are made of pure gelatin that is formed into a (somewhat hard) two-part capsule with the powdered medicine inside, and (b) softgel capsules which are made of gelatin mixed with glycerin, sorbitol and some other food ingredients and formed into a (somewhat softer) solid capsule with liquid medicine inside. Both forms of gelatin have edible food uses, and, therefore, require kosher certification. However, since the capsules are consumed in an atypical manner (i.e., pure, as opposed to the typical manner which is to dilute them in other foods), they may be consumed by someone who is incapacitated by his sickness (choleh she'ain bo sakanah) and has no gelatin-free alternative. [This position is based on the presentation of the gelatin (i.e., that they are pure) and not because the capsule is swallowed.]

For example, someone who takes vitamins for their general health and wellbeing would not be permitted to consume a vitamin that comes in a softgel, but a person who requires antibiotics that are only available in a gelatin capsule may use it. The difference between the cases is that in the former, the person's condition is not severe enough to warrant consuming a gelatin capsule, but in the latter case it is.