| A brief overview of the Kosher dietary laws:
The Kosher dietary laws determine which foods are “fit or proper” for Jews and deal predominantly with three issues: Allowed animals, prohibition of blood, and prohibition of mixing milk and meat.
Additional laws cover other areas such as grape products, cheese, baking, cooking, tithing, and foods that may not be eaten during the Jewish festival of Passover.
| Allowed food:
- Ruminants that chew their cud and have split hooves, e.g., cattle, sheep, buffalo, deer, elk, and goats
Note: Because of the difficulty of removing blood vessels and the sciatic nerve from the hindquarter of most ruminants, these portions are generally not used as Kosher in developed countries. The meat eventually goes into the secular market.
- Domestic birds (chicken, turkey, squab, duck, and goose)
- Fish with fins and removable scales
- Some insects: Locust, grasshopper
- Some insect products: Honey and edible shellac (lac resin)
- Grape products handled by Sabbath-observing Jews from grape pressing to final processing (or unless heated after pressing)
| Prohibited food:
- Pigs, camels, rabbits, and all carnivores
- Birds of prey and most birds including those in the rattrie category (ostrich, emu, and rhea)
- All fish without removable scales
- Crustacean and molluscan shellfish
- All insects (except Locust and grasshopper)
Prohibition of Mixing Milk and Meat:
| The processing and handling of all materials and products fall into one of three categories:
- A meat product
- A dairy product
- A neutral product called “pareve,” “parve,” or “parev.”
All plant products (fresh fruits, vegetables and grains) are pareve, along with eggs, fish, honey, and lac resin (shellac). These pareve foods can be used with either meat products or dairy products.
However, if they are mixed with meat or dairy they take on the identity of the product they are mixed with; for example, an egg in a cheese soufflé becomes dairy.
| Kosher Slaughter
Animals must be slaughtered according to Jewish law by a specially trained religious slaughterman (“shochet”) using a special knife designed for the purpose (“chalef”). The knife must be extremely sharp, free of nicks and have a very straight blade that is at least twice the diameter of the neck of the animal to be slaughtered.
| Meat and poultry must be further prepared by properly removing certain veins, arteries, prohibited fats, blood, and the sciatic nerve. To further remove the prohibited blood, red meat and poultry must then be soaked and salted (“melicha”) within 72 hours of slaughter. Otherwise it needs to be well washed within the 72 hour period.
The lungs of all Kosher mammals are inspected. Any lung adhesions need to be removed and the lung must still be intact.
| Passover Holiday
During Passover leavened products from certain grains (wheat, rye, barley and oats) and their derivatives may not be eaten. Special supervision is mandatory for Passover production.
For more information and details about Kosher food laws please refer to:
- Regenstein, J.M., Chaudry, M.M. and Regenstein, C.E. (2003), The Kosher and Halal Food Laws. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 2: 111–127. doi:10.1111/j.1541-4337.2003.tb00018.x