Kosher 101

by Brooke on February 28, 2012

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Part of being a dietitian, is understanding different cultures and religious dietary laws.  I have been asked to speak at the 2012 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo in Chicago.  I am part of a panel discussing the similarities and differences between kosher and halal dietary laws.   Let’s just start with kosher.  There are about six million Jews in the United States and approximately fourteen million worldwide.  However, there are different denominations (i.e. Orthodox, Conservative) within this group following various levels of all kosher dietary laws.

Here is a brief Kosher 101 breakdown: 

What is Kosher?

Kosher comes from the Hebrew word meaning “fit in” or “proper.”  It refers to foods that meet dietary requirements that are laid out by Jewish Law.  If food doesn’t meet requirements it is described as “treif.”  Rabbis do not “bless” foods, but a rabbinically approved person called a “mashgiach” supervises the preparation.

Kosher dietary laws can be split into three main issues:
1) Allowed Animals:
•Ruminants with split that chew their cud
–Examples: cow, sheep, goat, deer, giraffe
–Not Allowed: Pigs
•Domestic birds
–Examples: Chicken, turkey, squab, duck, and goose
–Not Allowed: Ostrich, emu, and rhea
•Fish with fins and removable scales
–Not Allowed: Catfish, dogfish, monkfish, crustacean, and molluscan shellfish
2) Prohibition of blood:
•Animals and poultry are suitable for consumption if:
–Slaughtered by a trained religious slaughterman “shochet” using a special knife “chalef”
–Inspected after slaughter for defects
     -The external fat surrounding some organs and the sciatic nerve must also be removed
–Soaked and salted within 72 hours of slaughter
3) Separation of Dairy and Meat:
•Foods are divided into three categories:
     1) Fleishik(Meat): beef, lamb, venison, chicken, turkey, duck, and geese
     2) Milchik (Dairy): milk, cheese, and yogurt
           -Derived from animals that are kosher
     3) Parve (Neutral): fruit, vegetables, eggs, grains, fish, nuts, honey and seeds
           -Fish is NOT allowed on the same plate as meat or being served during the same course
           -However, CAN be consumed within the same meal
•Parve foods can be eaten with fleishik foods OR milchik foods

•Milchik foods can NOT be combined with fleishik foods



{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hannah Millon-Garvey March 2, 2012 at 3:21 am

Thank you for posting this! Very informative and much more than I had ever learned previously.


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