• Kosher Basic

  • Kosher Intermediate

  • Kosher Advanced

  • Kosher classification

The word Kosher means fit or proper. Kosher describes a set of laws which needs to be followed in order for those who follow the Jewish religion must adhere to before consuming a food product. In years prior, one who wished to make food products according to kosher law prepared the food in his home from the local produce or farm and in general the process was localized. With the advent of modernization and the influx of commercial produced products it began necessary for factories to obtain kosher certification as a method to ensure those who keep the Kosher dietary laws are assured that the laws are kept through the certification of the plant by the Kosher agency. There are over 1400 Kosher agencies around the world certifying thousands of factories which are producing kosher products. Each Kosher symbol is unique to a specific Kosher agency. When a product is certified kosher, the agency has a Rabbi who goes to the factory on a monthly basis depending on the product to ensure the ingredients used have the correct kosher symbol which was pre-approved for use by the Kosher agency. Kosher is not only related to a Kosher Jewish consumer. Many consumers outside the Jewish faith look for the Kosher symbol on products they wish to consume since they realize that the Rabbi visits the factory on a regular basis to make sure that all the ingredients being used in the production of the specific product is Kosher. These visits enable the Rabbi to make sure the companies are keeping with the kosher law on a constant basis and why the visits are crucial to any kosher program.

Kosher has many different levels of what is required to be Kosher. There is Kosher Meat, Kosher Dairy and Kosher Pareve. Kosher meat refers to certain animals which can only be consumed by those keeping a Kosher diet. Kosher animals must have split hooves and chew their cud. Therefore, only a select group of animals are permitted to be consumed. This list includes, sheep, cows and goats. For the most part cows are the main diet kosher consumers partake in. Once the animal is on the kosher approved list, there is an internal check which must be made to the animal. The Rabbi who kills the animal in the quickest possible has to check the internal lung of the animal to make sure there is no lesions on the lung which would mean that the animal is sick and would not live long. If these lesions are found the animal is deemed non-kosher. In order for a bird to be permitted there are a few signs which must be present to make it kosher. The most basic description is that the bird can not be a predator. If it goes after its prey, the bird will not be kosher. The most basic kosher bird is a chicken. Kosher Dairy means that there are milk, butter, cheese and other dairy ingredients in the product. Although some believe that eggs make a product dairy this is in fact not true. If there are of these ingredients in a product then the product will have a Dairy or D symbol next to the kosher agency to tell consumers this is in fact dairy. Many look for the dairy symbol on products since there is another Kosher law which those from the Jewish faith keep. If one eats meat or products containing meat there is waiting period for abut 6 hours which takes place. Therefore, having the dairy symbol next to the product is crucial to make sure one who ate meat is careful not to eat a product containing dairy within 6 hours of each other. Some question why is a waiting period necessary. In fact not only is there a waiting period in place we can not cook dairy and meat together either. For this reason someone from the Jewish who keeps the Kosher dietary laws very seriously, will not consume a Cheese Burger since they are not permitted to cook them together. One of the reasons given by the Rabbis is that in order to meat to be consumed it has to be killed. For dairy products to be consumed the milk is taken from the cow and then consumed. Meat is a representative of death since it requires to be killed before consumption, while milk represents live, as no animal is killed to drink it and we drink milk and give it to our young and they use it to live. Therefore, we do not mix meat and dairy together since, it is mixing life and death together and we keep these two separate. Kosher parve, means that there is no meat or dairy in the ingredients. Parve is the Hebrew word for neutral. When one is pareve the food does not have any restriction and can be eaten together with meat or dairy. Many food companies prefer when they can to produce parve foods to make the items available to more consumers.

There is another aspect to Kosher law which is vital to understand some of the basics of Kosher. This is in relation to equipment. When a factory which was not kosher wishes to obtain kosher certification one of the jobs of the kosher agency is to make sure all equipment needs to be koshered properly. This means that any equipment which was used in the past to cook or bake their products, has to be set on the highest temperature for a select period of time until all the impurities are burnt out. Before this is done the equipment has to be cleaned out well and kept unused for 24 hours. There is no blessing which is recited when doing the kosherization. In many cases sheet pans have to go through a kosherization process as well, while some agencies require the pans to be sent for reglazing before becoming a kosher factory. Ovens are not the only piece of equipment which needs to be cleaned well but all food contact surfaces needs to be cleaned from any residue. This is usually simple to implement since factories have a cleaning procedure which is done on a nightly basis which included cleaning out all equipment from residue. Once Kosherization is done to the company equipment we company can be considered kosher. When a company is kosher certified, as long no non-kosher is placed in the oven, the equipment is considered kosher. If a non-kosher ingredients is placed in the oven, then the kosherization process has to be done again. It is prudent that all ingredients coming into a factory are pre-approved by the kosher agency before being used for this reason.

Types of Kosher certification:

Kosher law requires that meat and poultry products may not be prepared or eaten with any form of dairy products. There are 4 types of Kosher certification accompanied with the KOF-K symbol on the label of the certified products. 

Kosher Parve (Pareve): Products completely void of all milk & meat in any form 

Kosher Meat: Products containing meat or meat derivatives

Kosher Dairy: Products containing dairy or dairy derivatives

Kosher Passover: Products certified for use on the Jewish holiday of Passover

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