Kosher History & Guidelines
To understand kosher food you need to understand the history & guidelines that food preparation and servicing have to adhere to. Kashrut, the dietary laws of the Jewish faith, was mostly a community and home-based ritual. However, kosher practices have evolved significantly in modern times with the kosher food industry generating at least $12.5 billion every year.
This industry intends to maintain a kosher food standard through a kosher certification system. Most people who consume kosher products are not even Orthodox Jews but people that consider these products safer and reliably labeled. Muslims are a faithful to kosher foods as the standards they demand their foods are very similar to the halal instructions detailed by the Quran.
Separation of meat and dairy
‘You cannot cook a young animal in the milk of its mother’. This Torah law serves as a key principle of what defines kosher. You have to completely separate meat and dairy products. You can neither prepare nor consume these two foods together as it is a serious violation of Torah law. Strict observers of the Jewish faith have separate preparation spaces in the kitchen for meat and dairy. Utensils and cookware are kept completely separate in accordance with given instruction as these food groups should never ever mix.
Slaughtering animals needs to follow strict guidelines for the meat to be considered kosher. The specific slaughter method is as per the instruction is given to Moses. You need rabbinical authorization before slaughtering animals for food. Shehitah, the slaughter of animals, should be done fast using a sharp knife with no indentations. You are not allowed to hesitate or use excessive pressure during the process. Upon slaughtering them, forbidden veins need to be removed and the animal salted for an hour to draw out blood. You cannot consume any animals that die of disease or are not slaughtered properly.
Origins of dairy and meat
For you to consume either dairy or meat, they both need to be from kosher animals. Meat is inclusive of all the by-products which are bones, soup, gravy, and broth. Kosher animals are mammals with split hooves and chew the cud. Kosher fish should have fins and removable scales. Pork, rabbit, shellfish, insects, and catfish are strictly non-kosher. Dairy products should not contain any meat derivatives.
These are foods that are not composed dairy or meat but are consumed with either of the two. Pareve foods include eggs, grain, fruit, and vegetables in their natural state. Veggies and fruits must be inspected for insects. These foods should not be processed or packaged with meat or dairy. Pareve foods also need to have solid kosher certification before being consumed.
Bread and bread products require two levels of kosher certification. Bread needs to be baked by someone Jewish or non-Jewish baker under strict Jewish authorities. Some bakeries use animal fats to grease their pans and use dairy in their baking process which is especially non-kosher. Listing of ingredients in kosher products is important but they do not have to be listed when on the packaging if used in small amounts. However, delisting an ingredient is against kosher rules so even if whey was used minimally in bread, this technically makes the bread non-kosher.
Kosher foods have revolutionized the food industry immensely over the past decade. The benefit of kosher foods is wide and caters to people with different diet subscriptions. Vegans and vegetarians can enjoy meatless foods and potential allergens such as shellfish are also eliminated. Muslims and Orthodox Jews have access foods that cater specifically to them. Kosher means ‘proper’ and the demand for cleaner diets has changed the dietary landscape for many people.