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Kosher Definitions for Our Products

kosher Vaad Hakashrus of Buffalo, Inc
POB 755
Williamsville, NY 14221
Rabbi Dovid Plaut
716-634-3990 716-634-3990
kosher, drink, Drink Mix, mix, mixes, cappuccino, coffee Tablet-K
8 Copper Beach Lane
Lawrence, NY 11559-2606
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations
333 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001

You may notice alongside the symbol some letters.

  • D - Implies the product has Dairy ingredients.
  • DE - Implies the product is processed on Equipment that processes Dairy ingredients.
  • M - Implies the product contains meat / poultry or processed on meat / poultry equipment.
  • P - Implies the products is kosher for Passover, but may not be Pareve (non-milk or meat).

The Hebrew word "kosher" means it is proper as it relates to dietary (kosher) laws. It means that a given product is permitted and acceptable.

A Kosher symbol means that the organization providing that symbol guarantees to the best of their ability that the product is kosher. The sources for the laws of kashruth are of Biblical origin and are discussed in the ancient, medieval, and contemporary writings of the Rabbis.

The laws of kashruth can get complex and you should consult an observant Rabbi when a question involving kashruth arises. Their purpose and rationale is simply to conform to the Divine Will as expressed in the Bible.

With the introduction of industrialization, transcontinental shipping and mass production, we have created a situation where most of the foods we eat are treated, processed, cooked, canned or boxed commercially in industrial settings which are likely to be located hundreds or thousands of miles away from home. It is difficult from the label to tell what ingredients or processes have actually been used.

Machinery is no longer kosher if it was used to process non-kosher products. Ingredients used in very small amounts are not required to be listed on packaging.  These ingredients could have come from non-kosher animals or sources. Generic terms such as "flavors" are often used, but provide no information as to where the "flavors" came from.  "Chocolate Flavor" may be a concoction of over 30 ingredients!

The Torah (Leviticus 11) says only mammals that chew their cud (ruminants) and are cloven-hoofed are permitted.  Fowl are limited to chicken, duck, goose and turkey.  Fish must have fins and scales.  You must not eat fish with meat.  No shellfish are permitted. 

All kosher meat and fowl must be slaughtered as directed in the Torah/Shechita.  This must be done by a trained, kosher slaughterer, called a shochet.  A shochet has been listed as qualified to slaughter animals by rabbinic authorities.  The throat of the animal must be severed with a special, blade that is very sharp and causes instant death to the animal.  This is thought to cause no pain to the animals.

Then, a bodek, a trained inspector, checks the internal organs for abnormalities.  If any abnormalities are found, the animal may be labeled as non-kosher or treif.  This may include sirchot, adhesions, which may indicate that the lungs have been punctured.  Only close inspection by the bodek will determine the kashruth status.  If it is free of adhesions, it will be labeled "Glatt Kosher."  Some Jewish communities only allow Glatt Kosher which is considered pure kosher.

Specific procedures, "Nikkur", are required for preparing beef, lamb and veal.  Many of the blood vessels, nerves and lobes of fat must be removed and NOT eaten.

To make the meat kosher, the blood must be extracted from the meat by broiling or salting of the meat.  This must be done within 72 hours after the animal is slaughtered, so that the blood does not congeal in the meat.  But, if the meat is soaked or rinsed, another 72 hours can go by before the salting procedure is done.  To salt the meat, it is soaked for 30 minutes in cool water in a vessel that is made only for salting.  The excess water is allowed to drip from the meat and the entire surface is covered with coarse salt.  Fowl must have the inside and outside thoroughly salted.  The fowl must have all intestines removed before the salting and each piece is also salted.  If any piece of the meat is cut during the process, the cut must also be soaked and salted.  The salted pieces of meat are left on an inclined or slotted surface for one hour to allow the blood to flow away from the meat.  Fowl must be hung or stood so that the cavity is down.  After the hour is over, the meat is soaked and washed to remove the salt.

Ground meat cannot be made kosher after it is ground up.  Meat cannot be put into hot water before the blood is removed.

You can also make meat kosher by broiling it.  This is required for the liver, because it has more blood that the average meat.  It is washed to remove the blood from its surface and salted lightly on all sides to completely cover it.  It is broiled on a grate over an open fire removing the internal blood.  Liver is has slits cut into it and then it is broiled on both sides until it becomes dry-looking and brown.  Meat is then rinsed.  Different instruments are used for the koshering of liver.

Kosher meat and poultry must be labeled, with a metal tag called a plumba, until it is purchased assuring the customer that it has had rabbinic supervision. 

The Torah forbids cooking meat and milk together in any form or eating them together.  To be safe, rabbis prohibited the eating of meat and dairy products at the same meal or using the same utensils to prepare them.  This means you must have two sets of spoons, pots, plates, silverware, etc.  You must wait 3 hours after eating a meat product before any dairy products can be eaten.  But, meat can follow dairy products except for hard cheese (6 months or older) which must allow 6 hours between.  If you eat dairy and are going to eat meat, you must eat a solid food and then rinse your mouth before eating the meat.

After eating, washed dishes must be placed on a separate rack to keep the meat and milk dishes separate.

The eggs of non-kosher birds or fish cannot be made kosher.  Cavier must come from kosher fish and so, they must be supervised.  If eggs from kosher fowl have a bloodspot, they must be discarded.  Eggs must be inspected before preparation.  Commercial egg products are supervised if they have the kosher label.

Labels on baked goods must have labels that specifically state the type of shortening and whether or not it is vegetable or animal and its specific source.  Sources include coconut oil, cottonseed oil, lard, etc.  This allows the consumer to see if the product is kosher or not.  But, that doesn't mean that the machinery used does not sometimes have animal fats go through it as well.  While the vegetable product is pure, it would become non-kosher, because of the non-kosher equipment used in the processing.  NO dairy can be used in the baking of bread.  Oils and grease are also used to help the goods rise. These are not listed on the label either.  So, you should look for the kosher certification.

Emulsifiers are used in food production to allow ingredients to mix easily.  They include mono- and diglycerides, polysorbates, sorbitan monostearate, and more.  They are made from both vegetable and animal sources, and thus, require strict supervision to ensure the kosher rating.  You should always look for a kashruth certification before purchasing one of these products.  They include chocolate, candy, peanut butter, ice cream, sherbet, prepackaged cake mixes, donuts, pudding, coffee creamers, instant mash potatoes, margarine, cereals and many more items that contain diglycerides.

It is a commandment, or mitzvah, that when baking items with batter, a portion of dough must be set aside for "Challah" if it is made from the flour of barley, oats, rye, spelt or wheat..  Challah must be burned.  If flour from these types is mixed with other types such as corn or rice, a Rabbi should be consulted.  There are many more rules dictating bought goods and batters based on the weight of the items.

Milking of animals must be supervised to insure that the milk comes from a kosher animal.  In the US, only cows' milk is sold commercially, so it meets the supervision requirement.

Cheese must have a kashruth certification.  If non-kosher coagulants are used, such as rennet, the product is considered non-kosher.

Many of today's natural foods do not meet the kosher criteria.  Even products that use pure vegetable oils may be non-kosher due to the manufacturer also produce animal products on the same machinery.  Even natural products must be supervised in order to remain kosher.

So, when it comes to remaining kosher, use your head and look for the label!

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