Is Gelatin Made from Horses’ Hooves?

Sometimes the most innocuous of foodstuffs contain constituents whose origins are less than appetizing.

  • Published 5 September 2002

Claim

Gelatin is made from the bones, hides, and other parts of animals, including horses.

Origin

Sometimes the most innocuous of foodstuffs contain constituents whose origins are less than appetizing. Such is the case with JELL-O, a dessert that has graced millions of dinner tables since its 1897 debut.

Underneath JELL-O’s jiggly wholesomeness lurks a secret many consumers are disconcerted to learn: JELL-O is made from gelatin, an animal product rendered from the hides and bones of animals, typically pork skins, pork, horses, cattle bones, and split cattle hides.

The production of gelatin starts with the boiling of bones, skins, and hides of cows and pigs, a process that releases the protein-rich collagen from animal tissues. The collagen is boiled and filtered numerous times, dried, and ground to a powder. Because the collagen is processed extensively, the final product is not categorized as a meat or animal product by the federal government. Very strict vegetarians avoid gelatin entirely, but more permissive vegetarians have no problem including JELL-O in their diets.

JELL-O products account for about 80 percent of the gelatin market.

Popular belief has it that gelatin comes from horses’ and cows’ hooves. Kraft, the maker of JELL-O, asserts that hooves do not contain the necessary collagen and therefore are not used in the production of its JELL-O brand gelatin product.

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