The Hebrew word “kosher” means fit or proper as it relates to Jewish dietary law. Kosher foods are permitted to be eaten, and can be used as ingredients in the production of additional food items.
The basic laws are of Biblical origin. For thousands of years, Rabbinic scholars have interpreted these laws and applied them to contemporary situations. In addition, Rabbinic bodies enacted protective legislation to safeguard the integrity of kosher laws.
Kosher Dietary Rules and Regulations.
The laws of kosher are complex and extensive. The intention of this guide is to acquaint the reader with some of the fundamentals of kashrut and provide insight into its practical application. Given the complex nature of the laws of kosher, one should consult an Orthodox Rabbi whenever an issue arises.
Not too long ago, most food products were made in the family kitchen, or in a small factory or store in the local community. It was relatively easy to ascertain if the product was reliably kosher. If Rabbinical supervision was required, it was attended to by the Rabbi of the community, who was known to all. Today, industrialization, transcontinental shipping and mass production have created a situation where most of the foods we eat are treated, processed, cooked, canned or boxed commercially in industrial settings, which can be located hundreds or thousands of miles away from home.
What adds further complication is that it is generally not possible to judge the kosher status of an item on the basis of the information provided in the ingredient declaration for a variety of reasons.
First, the product may be made from kosher ingredients, but processed on non-kosher equipment. Second, the USDA does not require the listing of certain processing aids, such as pan liners and oils that serve as release agents. Though not legally classified as ingredients, these items could nonetheless render the product non-kosher. Third, many ingredients can be kosher or non-kosher, depending on their source of origin. For example, glycerin and emulsifiers are made from either vegetable (most likely kosher) or animal oils (most likely non-kosher). Finally, many ingredients are listed only in broad terms, with no breakdown of the many complex components that make up the actual item. For example, a chocolate flavor may contain 50 ingredients, but the ingredient declaration will list this entire complex of ingredients as “flavors”.
Unless a person is an expert in food production, the average consumer cannot possibly make an evaluation of the kosher status, which is why it is important to purchase only those products that have the endorsement of a reliable kashruth agency.
About OU Kosher
The OU (Orthodox Union) Kosher is the world’s largest and most widely recognized kosher certification agency, certifying over 1,201,950 products produced in more than 9,715 plants located in 104 countries around the world.
The OU, termed a “coveted seal of approval” by The New York Times, is one of the world’s best-known trademarks. Comparing it to the UL®, Forbes magazine wrote, “If you want to know your food is kosher, you can look for the Orthodox Union’s OU symbol.”
It immediately and universally enhances your product, raising the perception of its quality, and increasing its marketability.
Our 900 Rabbinic Field Representatives, located across North America and throughout the world – from Europe to Australia, from China to South Africa—are proficient in modern food production techniques and chemical and biological processes, no less than the intricacies of Jewish law.
Our New York headquarters staff consists of over 60 Rabbinic Coordinators who serve as account executives for OU certified companies, supplemented by a roster of ingredient specialists, flavor analysts and other support staff.
A state-of-the-art computer system stores and tracks product information and ingredients. The Orthodox Union database contains information on more than 2,613,415 food ingredients.
Many of the food industry’s most recognized brands, large and small, choose the OU for their kosher certification. These include: ADM, Avebe, Cargill, Coca Cola, Peter Cremer, Danisco, Dean Foods, DSM, General Mills, Chr. Hansen, Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical, H.J. Heinz, Hershey’s, Kraft/Nabisco, McCormick & Co., Nestlé, Novartis, Procter & Gamble, Quest, Reynolds Aluminum, Rhodia, Unilever, and thousands more.
The OU does much more than ensure the highest standards of kosher certification. OU Kosher is unique among all the major kosher certification agencies, as it is part of a non-profit communal organization (founded in 1898), so that it can maintain the highest levels of integrity without any possible conflict of interest.
The Orthodox Union, now in its second century of service to the Jewish community of North America and beyond, is a world leader in community and synagogue services, adult education, youth work through NCSY, political action through the IPA, and advocacy for persons with disabilities through Yachad and Our Way.
For more information about the Orthodox Union visit http://www.ou.org
Health Benefits of the Kosher diet:
- Food allergies are another concern for people who eat kosher foods. When a food is said to be kosher then strict regulations are put into place making sure that the production of different types of foods are separated in different facilities, confirming that no mixture or accidental combining of products ever occurs. This is especially important for those who are allergic to items such as shell fish, which often end up being a by-product in some packaged foods.
- The animal (meat), is thoroughly inspected for any sickness or broken bones which may cause infections or other diseases in the animal, making it unsafe to consume according to Jewish law. In fact, kosher inspections “reject about three times more than what the USDA does” making it safer and healthier than standard practices.
- No unspecified contaminates ever enter the food being consumed. Special regulations and procedures make certain that insects and bugs do not find their way into “vegetables, fruits, and grains prior to packing.”
- Certain types of seafood are also forbidden in kosher law. Crab, Lobster, and shrimp, often known as “bottom feeders” are prohibited do to the fact that they can contain certain pollutants like Mercury which can harmful to humans.
- Kosher meat helps to eliminate risk from products containing dangerous hormones that get transferred from meat products to our bodies.
Eating kosher for the Jewish population is a diet regulated by many multifaceted rules. It is a religious self-discipline that leads Jewish people to a higher spiritual life.
“I would add that the dozens of kosher rules are spiritual exercises to strengthen a Jewish soul. Even if you do not do them all, doing many of them will make you a more spiritual person, and if done with the intention of fulfilling your part of Israel's covenant with God, a better Jew.”
~ Rabbi Maller, “A Holy Kosher Diet from God.” http://www.rabbimaller.com/
What is The Halal Diet?
Halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law. It is the opposite of haraam. The term is used to designate food seen as permissible according to Islamic law.
In general, every food is considered halal in Islam unless it is specially prohibited by the Qur’an or the Hadith. By official definition, halal foods are those that are:
- Free from any component that Muslims are prohibited from consuming according to Islamic law (Shariah).
- Processed, made, produced, manufactured and/or stored using utensils, equipment and/or machinery that have been cleansed according to Islamic law.
All foods are considered halal except the following (which are haram):
- Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
- Non-Halal Animal Fat
- Enzymes* (Microbial Enzymes are permissible)
- Gelatine* – from non-Halal source (fish gelatine is Halal)
- L-cysteine (if from human hair)
- Lipase* (only animal lipase need be avoided)
- Non-Halal Animal Shortening
- Pork, Bacon / Ham and anything from pigs
- Unspecified Meat Broth
- Rennet* (All forms should be avoided except for plant / microbial /
- synthetic – rennet obtained from halal slaughtered animal is
- Stock* (a blend of mix species broth or meat stock)
- Tallow* (non-Halal species)
- Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
- Foods contaminated with any of the above products
(*May be consumed if derived from Halal animals.)
The Health Benefits of the Halal Diet:
- Avoiding pork and its by products greatly reduces cholesterol levels. A major concern when it comes to heart disease. Pork also contains high levels of saturated fat.
- Abstaining from alcohol reduces serious damage to the liver, pancreas and brain. Over consumption can cause cirrhosis of the liver or even death.
- Halal encourages eating food of the highest quality in supporting healthy weight, immune system and digestive functions and more.
- No growth hormones. Quality 100% halal meat shares its health benefits with those of organic meat. This means animals should be free to graze and not be treated with antibiotics or hormones. Long-term exposure to growth hormones in our food can mean these substances accumulate in our bodies, with potential hormone-mimicking effects. While studies continue to research the full extent of the effects of these drugs on humans, it’s wise to steer clear of unnecessary chemicals.
- No antibiotics: Antibiotics are commonly-used in meat production. There is a health risk attached to these too. BBC News has reported on the advice that farmers need to dramatically cut the amount of antibiotics used in agriculture for this reason. The main worry is that these antibiotics could lead to resistance of the drugs in humans (as well as antifungal and antiparasitic drugs), potentially leading to new ‘superbugs.’ Putting food into our systems that’s used to fatten meat animals is also thought to also pose a weight-gain risk to humans.
- No preservatives: Some of the most notorious preservatives can trigger chemical changes that can bring about cancer-causing compounds and inhibit red blood cells from transporting oxygen throughout the body.
- No pesticides: There are fewer synthetic pesticides involved in halal meat production. This ensures improved animal health and minimal environmental impact. Like antibiotics, pesticides used to produce chicken feed, for example, have been shown to transfer to the bird’s tissue and eggs, which is transferred in turn to us when eaten. In fattier meats any pesticides, hormones and other toxins concentrate more in the tissue (and can more easily lodge themselves in our fat tissues), so if you don’t normally eat halal, this is a particularly wise choice when opting for fattier cuts.
- Grass-fed animals: In line with its free-range philosophy, halal meat focuses on grass-feeding. Grass-fed meat typically has higher concentrations of antioxidants, vitamins, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fats, and lower concentrations of saturated fat overall. Omega-3 levels in grass-fed beef are approximately 50 percent higher than in non-halal, non-organic beef.
- No eating of the unclean qualities of blood, which promote germs and disease in food.
Meat: The Contradiction-
Slaughter House Regulations- B.C. Laws
Meat deemed unfit
17: Where meat is:
(a) found to be diseased or unwholesome, or
(i) a calf less than 3 weeks old when killed,
(ii) a lamb less than 8 weeks old when killed,
(iii) a piglet less than 5 weeks old when killed, or
(iv) an emaciated or wasted animal,
the meat shall not be used for human food.
Slaughter- The Halal Way
- Animal welfare should be respected throughout the course of an animal's lifetime
- The slaughter process should be conducted by practising Muslims
- In order to emphasise the sanctity of life, the name of God should be invoked prior to slaughter
- The method of slaughter must involve a cut to the throat using a single, continuous motion
- The slaughter of the animal should sever the carotid artery, windpipe and jugular veins
- The spinal cord must remain intact
- Knives must not be sharpened in the presence of an animal, nor should animals witness the slaughter of other animals
- The knife should be razor sharp and free of blemishes
- Animals should not be slaughtered in a position that is uncomfortable
- Blood must be entirely drained out prior to the animal being processed further
Why is slaughter such a big issue here in B.C?
The BC SPCA advocates for only humane methods to be used for the killing of any animal.
Animals that are slaughtered, or killed for their meat, are at risk of suffering. Some of the risks include:
- Suffering relating to transportation to the slaughter facility
- Stress before being killed due to being housed with unfamiliar animals
- Injury and stress from being handled roughly, sometimes with electric prods or whips
- Severe pain and distress if the animal is awake or alert while killed
Temple Grandin Ph.d
Temple Grandin, living with autism, is a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. Dr. Grandin revolutionized livestock handling by tapping into her unique ability to see the world in a different way to develop a deeper understanding of animal behaviour. Especially cattle. She is a designer of livestock handling facilities. Temple designed a “centre track restrainer system for meat plants. It entails curved cutes and race systems. This helps reduce the stress placed on cattle during handling before slaughter. She has also developed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. This scoring system is being used by many large corporations to improve animal welfare. Other areas of research are: cattle temperament, environmental enrichment for pigs, reducing dark cutters and bruises, bull fertility, training procedures, and effective stunning methods for cattle and pigs at meat plants. It was documented, that if animals did not know they were going to die, their meat would be more tender as stress toughens the meat. Temple’s modern methods of livestock handling improves animal welfare and productivity.