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Non-Kosher Insulin Injections

Non-Kosher Insulin Injections



I have type 2 diabetes, and I'm unable to control it adequately with oral medication, and thus require insulin injections. The products my doctor is suggesting are made either from human cadavers or porcine (pork) product. What should I do?


Taking shots made of porcine product does not pose any problem whatsoever. We are forbidden to orally ingest pork, but may benefit from non-kosher foods or their byproducts in other ways.1 This applies to non-medical areas as well, such as playing football with a pigskin ball, or wearing clothing made of leather which comes from a non-kosher animal.

[Bear in mind that the laws of kosher are suspended in many instances for medical purposes. Speak to an expert rabbi if you find it necessary to take oral medicine which is not kosher.]

Injections which contain human remains do present a problem because we are forbidden to benefit from human bodies (see Are cadaver transplants allowed?).2 I would therefore advise you to take the porcine product insulin shots.

Wishing you continued success in your efforts to keep healthy under trying circumstances.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and sweet new year!

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner


The exception to this rule is a mixture of dairy and beef which was cooked together. Also, there are rabbinic restrictions on doing business in the non-kosher food industry.


Though also not categorically forbidden in case of medical necessity.

Rabbi Menachem Posner serves as staff editor for
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Discussion (27)
March 24, 2016
No insulins were EVER made from cadavers. And nowadays, one would be hard put to find even beef or pork insulin. The vast majority of people use synthetic insulins made from a recombinant DNA process using yeast. So no one has to worry about what their injections contain.
Natalie Sera
April 24, 2014
Wearing Porcine Leather
Did I just read that correctly? I've gone out of my way to avoid buying any shoes, jackets or balls that have porcine leather. Can I indeed buy these products? If so, are there forbidden places to wear them?
Abingdon, MD
April 24, 2014
re: Beef or chicken insulin
Because of Mad Cow disease risks, Beef insulin is no longer manufactured in the USA. Chicken insulin has not ever been available.Here is information from the FDA on pork and beef insulin-apparently it is available in some other countries but there are strict guidelines on importing it. You can google information on FDA guidelines for importing beef insulin.

The International Diabetes Federation has a handout on insulin-how it was processed and how is now manufactured as well as information on structure of insulin and similarity between species.
Irena McClain, MPH/Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi
April 14, 2014
Non-Kosher Insulin Injections
I've read somewhere about beef or chicken insulin.

Ask your doctor about it.
Providence, RI
October 19, 2013
insulin discussion
Irena McClain, when one reads the opinions of many people one can't help but ask: where on earth they were educated and where on earth they live? Thank HaShem that there are people like you who take the trouble to inform the ignorant. I hope that they will not only hear what you have said so clearly but, that they will listen.
Kenan Moss
October 17, 2013
Genetically engineered insulin
Maybe this link will help explain how insulin is made. it is not derived from human cadavers nor is it obtained from slaughtered animals. Genetically engineered human insulin has been in production for over 35 years. Please take the time to google "making human insulin" for more information on the process.

Some companies grow the human insulin in yeast (Novo Nordisk brands) while others grow it in bacteria (Lilly brands). Sanofi insulin Apidra and Lantus are also genetically engineered. There is no insulin available today that is derived from animals, kosher or non-kosher, nor is human insulin derived from human cadavers.
Irena McClain, MPH- Associate Director, Diabetes Foundation of Mississippi
October 16, 2013
I thought that insulin was being produced from genetically modified E-Coli bacteria for at least the last tree decades. If this is so, would it pose an halachic problem?
Kenan Moss
July 21, 2013
Re: Wheat and type 2
The long list does not change my premise.

None of those things are kosher for Passover for Ashkenazim , and none of them are ingredients in Passover food, except for Matzah. Anyone keeping the Passover prohibitions who is not eating Matzah is not eating any of the things in your expanded redefinition of wheat.
Camarillo, CA, USA
July 21, 2013
Re: Hurt an animal rather than use a dead person?
The way that this was explained to me was that kosher animals were created, according to the explanation I was given, so that they could be killed by humans, either as sacrifices or for kosher food, and that letting them live until they die of natural causes is, according to this explanation, a waste of their lives.

I don't agree with this, but you have to understand the premise before you can appreciate the conclusion.

I am not sure how non-kosher animals fit into this, because they can't be used for sacrifices or for kosher food.

I assume that the purpose of dead human bodies would be to buried (by "purpose", I mean G-d's reason for having humans become corpses instead of disappearing at death).

Once you understand the underlying belief about why animals and corpses exist, it does make logical sense to use each for its intended purpose.

But if you think the purpose of a corpse is to be useful and the purpose of an animal is to live, then you'd have an opposite conclusion.
Camarillo, CA, USA
July 20, 2013
Hurt an animal rather than use a dead person? No way.
So you suggest using medicine from an innocent animal that will have to be killed rather than from a person who is already dead. That's cruel. Wake up; let's live and let live!
Chris L.
Los Angeles