The term “Halal JELL-O®” is often used to refer to gelatin or gelatin substitutes that are permissible under Islamic dietary law. Despite this colloquial use of its trademarked name, Kraft Foods' JELL-O® brand gelatin is not suitable for a halal diet, even though it may be listed as kosher, or acceptable under Jewish dietary laws. Halal JELL-O® includes gelatin derived from cattle or fish killed according to Islamic law, as well as plant-based gelatin substitutes like agar or carageenan. Halal gelatin and gelatin substitutes come in many of the same flavors as ordinary gelatin, but may differ slightly in texture.
Many Muslims refer to substitutes for the popular JELL-O® brand of gelatin desserts as “halal JELL-O®,” even though Kraft produces no gelatin products that are either halal certified or effectively halal. JELL-O® brand products may contain gelatin from a variety of animals not suitable for consumption under Islamic or Jewish dietary law, including pigs. Some Jewish authorities believe that porcine gelatin is acceptable since it is significantly altered and no longer resembles pork, but no Islamic authorities use this definition.
Products may qualify as “halal JELL-O®” if they are made from gelatin derived from fish or cattle slaughtered using a non-serrated blade and no stunning procedure. These gelatins are available in a wide range of flavors and colors, similar to those of mainstream gelatin, but they often set up with a softer texture than pork-derived products. Depending on the manufacturer, these halal products may include localized flavors such as lychee or durian that aren't common on the North American or European markets. Animal-derived halal gelatin is acceptable for desserts made in containers or for adding to puddings as a stabilizer, but performs less well in standalone molds or cut shapes.
Vegetarian gelatin substitutes are also acceptable under Islamic dietary law, and are usually derived from seaweed. Agar is often used in east Asian desserts, along with coconut milk and fruit, and tends to be very firm and slightly opaque, with a less bouncy texture than gelatin. It cuts cleanly and performs well in molds, but can be slightly brittle. Carageenan-derived products are similar in texture and appearance to gelatin, but are available in a relatively limited range of flavors and tend to stretch and thin when cut or torn. Coconut gel works as a gelatin substitute in snacks, but is difficult to make at home, and is usually encountered only in manufactured products.