The Kashrus of Gelatin Capsules

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 Q. Many medications are encased in gelatin capsules. May these be used?

A. Rav Belsky zt”l would differentiate between two types of gelatin capsules:

Hard Gelatin Capsules Image Soft Gelatin Capsule Image
Hard Capsules Soft Capsules

Regarding medicines that are encased in hard gelatin capsules (such as capsules that are commonly used for antibiotics), Rav Belsky said that theminhag is to permit them for a choleh (one who is ill). This is based on the concept that a choleh is permitted to consume non-kosher medicines, provided that one does so shelo kiderech achiloso – in an uncommon manner of consumption. Since it is uncommon to eat dried-out, plastic-like gelatin capsules, one who is ill is permitted to swallow them. It should be noted that this leniency applies only if a kosher alternative is not available. Thus, as an example, one should not swallow Tylenol capsules since Tylenol tablets are readily available.

However, Rav Belsky felt that soft gelatin capsules, which are often used for vitamins, fish oils and some over the counter medications, should not be used. Because the gelatin is soft and pliable, Rav Belsky was concerned that swallowing gelatin in this form might not be considered an uncommon manner. Additionally, these soft capsules are often made from pigskin gelatin and are kept soft and pliable with large amounts of glycerin. If one has no other alternative, Rav Belsky recommended wrapping the capsule in tissue paper, which is an unusual manner of consumption.

This column comes from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis dedicated in memory of Rav Chaim Yisroel ben Reb Dov HaLevy Belsky, zt’l, Senior OU Kosher Halachic Consultant (1987-2016). Subscribers can also ask their own questions on Kashrus issues and send them to These questions and their answers may be selected to become one of the Q and A’s on OU Kosher Halacha Yo



  1. Who would say that a hard gelatin capsules is eating food, just that it’s shelo kederech achilaso? Seems more reasonable that it’s nifsal me’achila, since it’s basically an organic plastic.

  2. The minhag to allow for a choloh? Who else would take antibiotics?
    Back in the 1970’s my rosh yeshiva was asked this shila and he told us to wrap the pill in tissue first and then try to swallow it whole.

  3. Klal Yisroel has absorbed a tremendous blow with the loss of Rav Belsky, zatzal. That’s a given for his talmidim, kul shekain for his family, but even the layperson who had minimal contact with him benefited from his bakius, wisdom and righteousness.

  4. “The minhag to allow for a choloh? Who else would take antibiotics?”

    Actually alot of medicine come in gelcaps and even where kosher caps are available the yiddish pharamacy will do what is easier for them and give you gel caps.

    I called them about it to ask and they said that they dont have a hechsher in the pharmacy and dont have to serve only kosher.
    Then i said how he as a frum yid doesnt mind doing it and he said every pharamcy in boro park does it.


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