View Full Version : Halal and Kosher

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-13-2005, 10:09 PM
To start off this discussion, I would just like to paste an article:

Judaic and Islamic dietary laws have and do bring Jews and Muslims together. Both the Kosher and Halal signs and symbols have given solace to both minorities living in a majority secular or Christian society.


In General
Of the animals that may be eaten, the birds and mammals must be killed in accordance with Scriptural Law.
All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.
Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food.

In Detail

In both Judaism and Islam, we have a wide variety of identical dietary laws:
The Torah
“..any animal that has cloven hooves and chews its cud." Lev. 11:3; Deut. 14:6

The Quran
"O ye who believe! fulfil (all) obligations. Lawful unto you (for food) are all cattle four-footed animals, with the exceptions named: But animals of the chase are forbidden while ye are in the sacred precincts or in pilgrim garb: for Allah doth command according to His will and plan.” Surah 5:1

************************************************** *********************

The Torah
"Of the things that are in the waters, you may eat anything that has fins and scales." Lev. 11:9; Deut. 14:9

The Quran
”Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and its use for food,- for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel.” Surah 5:96

************************************************** *********************

The Torah
The mammals and birds that may be eaten must be slaughtered in accordance with Jewish law. (Deut. 12:21)

The Quran
"Eat the meat of the animals on which name of Allah has been invoked, if you are believers." (6 :1 8)
"Do not eat meat of animal on which the name of Allah has not been invoked because this is an act of sin." (6 : 121)

************************************************** *********************

The Torah
We may not eat animals that died of natural causes. (Deut. 14:21)

The Quran
"Forbidden to you (as food) are dead animals.” (5 : 4)

************************************************** *********************

The Torah
Birds of prey or scavengers. (Lev. 11:13-19; Deut. 14:11-18)

Sayings of Prophet Muhammad
"Similarly, someone in ihram should not kill any predatory birds...” (Malik's Muwatta, Book 20:, Number 20.26.92)

************************************************** *********************

The Torah
Prohibits consumption of blood. (Lev. 7:26-27; Lev. 17:10-14)

The Quran
"Forbidden to you (for food)...blood. (5:3)

************************************************** *********************

The Torah
“And the swine, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. “ (Lev. 11:7)

The Quran
” He has only forbidden you ... the flesh of swine..." (16:115)

************************************************** *********************

The Torah
“Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.” (Lev. 10:9)

The Quran
"They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit." They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: "What is beyond your needs." Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider.” (2:219)

************************************************** *********************

Therefore, the essential and core harmful substances have been preserved as forbidden in the Quran as it has been in the Torah.

03-13-2005, 10:54 PM
“Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations.” (Lev. 10:9)
That however is a misquote. That commandment is not to get drunk while we approach the holy of holies in the temple in Jerusalem.

when you go into the Tent of Meeting We know only [that a kohen is forbidden] to enter the Heichal [after drinking wine]. How do we know that [this prohibition applies also to] approaching the altar [which is outside the Heichal]? [The answer is:] Here [in our verse] it speaks of “entering the Tent of Meeting.” Regarding washing the hands and feet [at the washstand-see Exod. 30:1721], “entering the Tent of Meeting” is [also] mentioned (verse 20). [Now, concerning washing, approaching the altar is regarded as similar to entering the Tent of Meeting insofar as both require washing the hands and feet, as it says, “When they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water… or when they approach the altar to serve” (Exod. 30:20). Hence,] just as there [in the case of washing], Scripture made approaching the altar the same as entering the Tent of Meeting, here too, it made approaching the altar the same as entering the Tent of Meeting [insofar as both are equally prohibited when the kohen has drunk wine]. — [Torath Kohanim 10:37]

We Jews do not forbid wine, just the opposite, we are commanded often to drink it! As per the blessing "Blessed are you HaShem, our God, King of the universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.
Another commandment:

HaShem said,, "See, I give you every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth, and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food."(Gen 2.29)
Further, it is a commandment to get intoxicated on Purim (an upcoming holiday)!
There are very few prohibitions on non-animalistic foods. They usually pertain on a certain person or place not to take them from. One of those few:

Not to drink wine of idolaters (Deut. 32:38)

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-13-2005, 11:02 PM
What about these passages:
Alcohol not holy: num 6:3, judg 13:4-7, ephes 5:15-18, hosea 4:11, 7:5, isaiah 19:14, 28:7-8, proverbs 23:29-35, Qur’an 2:219, 5:90

To all Christian friends- What are the restrictions given in Christianity?

03-13-2005, 11:07 PM
What about these passages:
Alcohol not holy: num 6:3
Don't ignore 6:2

Speak to the children of Israel, and you shall say to them: A man or woman who sets himself apart by making a nazirite vow to abstain for the sake of the Lord.
who sets himself apart Heb. כִּי יַפְלִא, sets himself apart. Why is the section dealing with the nazirite juxtaposed to the section of the adulterous woman? To tell us that whoever sees an adulteress in her disgrace should vow to abstain from wine, for it leads to adultery. — [Sotah 2a]
a nazirite vow Heb. נָזִיר [The term] נְזִירָה everywhere [in Scripture] means only separation; here too [the nazirite] separates himself from wine. - [Sifrei Naso 1:87]
to abstain for the sake of the Lord To separate himself from wine for the sake of Heaven. — [Ned. 9b, Sifrei Naso 1:84]

judg 13:4-7
As it is not Torah, it is not the Law.

ephes 5:15-18
As it is not Torah, it is not the Law.

hosea 4:11, 7:5
As it is not Torah, it is not the Law.

isaiah 19:14, 28:7-8
As it is not Torah, it is not the Law.

proverbs 23:29-35
As it is not Torah, it is not the Law.

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-13-2005, 11:24 PM

SpaceFalcon, I don't understand what you mean by the phrase, "As it is not Torah, it is not the law" ???

These are still part of the Tanakh, right?

Isaiah 28:7. These, too, erred because of wine and strayed because of strong wine; priest and prophet erred because of strong wine, they became corrupt because of wine; they went astray because of strong wine, they erred against the seer, they caused justice to stumble.

Who wrote these verses? Aren't they inspired from God?

I'm confused about this point.

The Qur'an is very open in it's criticism on this issue:

Al-Maaidah 5:62. And you see many of them (Jews) hurrying for sin and transgression, and eating illegal things. Evil indeed is that which they have been doing.

63. Why do not the rabbis and the religious learned men forbid them from uttering sinful words and from eating illegal things.*Evil indeed is that which they have been performing.

66. And if only they had acted according to the Taurât (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel), and what has (now) been sent down to them from their Lord (the Qur'ân), they would surely have gotten provision from above them and from underneath their feet.*There are from among them people who are on the right course (i.e.*they act on the revelation and believe in Prophet Muhammad like 'Abdullâh bin Salâm ), but many of them do evil deeds.

67. O Messenger (Muhammad )! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you from your Lord.*And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His Message. Allâh will protect you from mankind.*Verily, Allâh guides not the people who disbelieve.

69. Surely, those who believe, those who are the Jews and the Sabians and the Christians, - whosoever believed in Allâh and the Last Day, and worked righteousness, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve

The Qur'an praises the righteous amongst the People of the Book for following the laws given to them, and it criticises those who leave the path of God.


03-13-2005, 11:35 PM
SpaceFalcon, I don't understand what you mean by the phrase, "As it is not Torah, it is not the law" ???
They are prophets, but they are not permitted to change our covenant with HaShem as our covenant is eternal.

Everything I command you that you shall be careful to do it. You shall neither add to it, nor subtract from it. (Deut. 13:1)

These are still part of the Tanakh, right?
The Tanach contains the Torah, but only the Torah contains the written law.

Who wrote these verses? Aren't they inspired from God?
Where as the Torah is the word of HaShem as written by Moshe Rabbeinu under dictation, the rest of the Tanach is written by other prophets who did not hear HaShem as clearly as Moses did. And as before, they may not alter our covenant with HaShem as it has been set for eternity.

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-13-2005, 11:50 PM
So who is responsible for this sin of changing the command of God? Why wasn't that verse rejected from the Torah if it had no authourity in the first place? ???

03-14-2005, 12:02 AM
So who is responsible for this sin of changing the command of God? Why wasn't that verse rejected from the Torah if it had no authourity in the first place? ???
I don't quite understand. The things in the Tanach that are not Torah are included because they are our history and they have divine inspirational value, but they have no effect where the law is concerned.
Such as the Isaiah verse you quoted has him saying how the people of Israel have abused a product of HaShem (wine), but he does not say that no one shall ever be allowed to drink wine again, that would be blasphamous against the law of the torah. The commandment was not actually changed.

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-14-2005, 12:06 AM
oh okay. Yes, I was just trying to understand the context of the verses, because I couldn't understand how it seemed to be prohibited.

Could you give me the context for the other verses as well?

Thanks. :)

03-14-2005, 12:39 AM
Could you give me the context for the other verses as well?

Consequently, beware now, and do not drink wine or strong drink, and do not eat any unclean thing. Because you shall conceive, and bear a son; and a razor shall not come upon his head, for a Nazirite to God shall the lad be from the womb; and he will begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines."...(judg 13:4-7)
Effectivly the boy was to draw his strength from the fact that he was a nazirite, and nazirites are not allowed to drink wine or shave their heads.

ephes 5:15-18
don't know what ephes is?

Harlotry and [old] wine and new wine take away the heart.(hosea 4:11), The day of our king, the princes became ill from the heat of the wine; he withdrew his hand with the scorners. (7:5)
The meaning is vauge, but refers to not acting like yourself.

The Lord has poured into its midst a spirit of perverseness, and they have misled Egypt in all its deeds as a drunkard strays in his vomit.(isaiah 19:14)
The Lord has poured into its midst He mixed a drink for them in its midst, which perverted their spirit, an expression similar to (Prov. 9:2), “She mixed (מָסְכָה) her wine.” Mixing a beverage in a cask until he blends it to its proper flavor is called מֶסֶ.

Who cries, "Woe!" Who, "Alas!" He who has quarrels. He who talks too much. Who has wounds without cause? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who sit late over wine, those who come to search for mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red; when he puts his eye on the cup, it goes smoothly. Ultimately, it will bite like a serpent, and sting like a viper. Your eyes will see strange women, and your heart will speak confusedly. And you shall be like one lying in the midst of the sea and like one lying at the top of a mast. "They struck me but I did not become ill; they beat me but I did not know it. When will I awaken? I will continue; I will seek it again."(proverbs 23:29-35)
all of proverbs are just simple advice (Proverbs is a writing, thus not the most divine book) and simply says this:
Advice: Don't get drunk, you will get a bad hangover.

03-14-2005, 02:37 AM

I believe the Tanakh verses you quoted from are reffering to those who abuse alcholol, rather than just anyone who uses it. It is a commandment that we use wine in pesach (passover), for an example that alcohol is in fact allowed. Judaism doesn't condemn a person who drinks alcoholic beverages, but it does those who abuse them.

03-14-2005, 02:38 AM
A nice article on wine is at http://www.myhomeloancompany.com/rachack/docs/essays/wine.html

03-14-2005, 02:39 AM
ephes would stand for esphesians (i think i mispelled that), one of Paul's epistles (thus, rejected by Judaism)

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-20-2005, 12:54 AM
I was wondering what is the process of killing an animal for it to be kosher?

And are there any days when you do sacrifices?

03-20-2005, 01:33 AM
Can we eat kosher?

03-20-2005, 01:48 AM
I was wondering what is the process of killing an animal for it to be kosher? Without going into technical details, think Halal. Basically the same there. We just require that the butcher be a God-fearing Jew.

And are there any days when you do sacrifices? No. We are no longer permitted to do sacrifices as the temple is not currently built, nor are we permitted to build it. That is a reason we need Moshiach.

Can we eat kosher? Anyone can purchase Kosher food if they wish. Kosher just means that it's checked by qualified Rabbis, and that it's ok for Jews to have.

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-20-2005, 03:15 AM
So what do you recite when you slaughter the animal?

03-20-2005, 04:51 AM
I apologize for my slow response, I've been watching the Ten commandments (good movie, not always true to the book) http://www.xs4all.nl/~ernstmul/images/jewish/jsmile033.gif

The process of ritual slaughter, Shchita, demands that a Shochet (butcher) checks his very very sharp knife, bless God and thank him for the commandment (a bracha, a blessing in this format) of Shchita, then proceed with the slaughter. I believe that is the same as Halal, but we require that the person who does the slaughter be a Jew.

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-20-2005, 10:55 PM
I'll post some articles on Halal in Islam.


Before you sink your teeth into the next Zabiha slaughtered meat product, ask yourself: is it Halal?

This is a question most Muslims don't think to ask, according to Ahmad Sakr, professor emeritus of Food Science and author of "Understanding Halal Food" and "A Muslim Guide to Food Ingredients" in an interview with Sound Vision from his California home.

The issue of Halal meat has been a bone of contention amongst North American Muslim communities.

Some Muslims argue that the meat of the Jews and Christians is Halal for Muslims. Others say the meat must be slaughtered according to Islamic rites for it to be fit for Muslim consumption.

Both groups can find support from legal opinions given by Islamic scholars.

But what's often ignored is that regardless of whether you choose to eat Zabiha or not, the meat of the animal itself may not be Halal, says Sakr.


With regards to meat that is not slaughtered according to Islamic rites, Sakr says it is not Halal because of the effect electric shock on blood drainage.

He explains that in regular meat slaughterhouses, animals are brought into an alley and given an electric shock to the head to make them unconscious.

The animal's legs are then tied up and it is hung upside down. A knife is put to its neck,and then it is slaughtered. The animal is then temporarily left alone to allow the blood to drain from its body. From there, the meat is processed.

But using electric shock, explains Sakr, means that all of the animal's blood does not leave its body, because electric shock affects the central nervous system.

On the contrary, if an animal is slaughtered in accordance with Islamic guidelines, the central nervous system works properly, and all of the animal's blood comes out.

Remaining blood in the animal is a source of fermentation and destruction of meat quality. This means bacteria can grow easily on the meat.

From an Islamic perspective, Sakr says it is Haram to eat meat containing blood, as it is clearly stated in the Quran that Muslims cannot consume blood.


"Halal is Halal if the following conditions are taken into consideration," explains Sakr.

The first is that the animal is itself is Halal. That means no pork, for instance.

The second, is that the food the animal consumes does not contain any blood or meat. Sakr explains that the animal has to be herbivorous to be Halal, and adds that an animal becomes Haram if it consumes blood and /or meat.

"Islam dictates that if an animal has received meat and/or blood while it was Halal, it becomes Haram and in order to become Halal you have to put that animal in a quarantine area for 40 days before you slaughter it to make it Halal," says Sakr.

If this is not respected, "that animal will contain the disease called Mad Cow Disease," he says. (You can read more about mad cow disease at its official site at http://www.mad-cow.org/)

The third condition Sakr lists for an animal to be Halal is that it should not be given any hormones.

In the meat industry, he says beef is given female sex hormones. This is meant to increase the weight of the animal in a short period of time.

The effect of consuming an animal with injected female hormones is a reduction in the masculine appearance of boys and men. It also reduces sexual appetite, explains Sakr, adding that this of course would not happen by eating just one meal containing meat. Rather, it can result when people are consuming meat daily, and Sakr mentioned "KFC and and MacDonald's" as two examples.

But eaters of Zabiha meat should not get on a high horse either: even if an animal is slaughtered in the Islamic manner, it will still contain these hormones.


Sakr points out that the meat industry also puts the preservatives nitrite or nitrate in meat. These react with the amino group of amino acids of the meat or protein to produce nitroso-amine. This is red pigment.

This results in meat still looking red in its color, as if it is fresh, even if it has been on the shelf for one or two weeks. While this may be good for industry, it causes cancer.

Animal food containing meat and blood, as well as dangerous hormones and preservatives lead Sakr to conclude one thing.

"If that animal has been fed all of the above, then it is no longer Halal, even if a Muslim goes to the farm and slaughters the animal in the name of Allah, [it] does not make the animal Halal."


In February 1994, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USDA) approved the use of another hormone for cows-estrogen. This was used to increase milk bladder size and milk excretion resulting in greater production of milk in a shorter period of time.

Estrogen can cause cancer of the breast and other cancers in general.

This is particularly frightening when we consider that many people drink milk daily, and consume its byproducts like milk, cheese and cookies.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanded that farms put the label EST on milk cartons if they use estrogen on cows, the milk industry convinced the FDA to forego putting this label. That means you don't know if the milk you drink contains estrogen or not.


The only viable solution, according to Sakr, is to establish farms which will be run by Muslims who will raise animals feeding them only plants, no hormones, preservatives or meat and blood.

He looks to the next generation of Muslims in North America to do that, though. Sakr points out that "most of the immigrant Muslims who came to Canada and the United States are highly educated and their impression about a farmer in their old countries, [is] that he is poor and uneducated, while we are educated."

In contrast, Sakr notes that in Canada and the US, Americans and Canadians may have a Ph.D. in animal sciences, for instance, but may still do farm work and not consider a lower class job.


Another option is simply eating a vegetable-based diet, as opposed to a meat based one. While Islam has not forbidden meat eating, it also has not made it a religious requirement to consume meat on a daily basis. Moderation in eating, as is the case with other aspects of life, is the key, according to Islam.

By opting for a more vegetable-based diet, this will reduce the meat intake of individuals, and lessen the amount of hormones and other dangerous chemicals ingested indirectly because of the meat.

Current science and health research has also found eating a vegetarian diet can be healthier for you.


Meat, dairy products and eggs that are from animals which have been fed with organic food is also an option for those who want to keep eating meat.

Organic livestock are not given antibiotics or hormones. They are given products that have been derived from natural sources.

While organic foods may be more expensive than meat bought at the supermarket, the fact that it's free of cancer-causing ingredients is well worth the cost if you want to maintain your meat-eating.

According to the Organic Farming Research Foundation based in Santa Cruz, California, about one percent of the US food supply is grown using organic methods. In 1996, this represented over $3.5 billion in retail sales.

Organic foods can be bought at natural foods stores, the health food sections and produce departments of supermarkets and at farmers' markets.

Haram Legislation on Halal Food

By Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute


A previous IslamOnline article (Kassaimah 2001) explained the drive behind the rash of "halal meat" legislation in the United States. Still to be discussed, however, is the danger that poor wording in legislation may cause strife within the Muslim community by taking sides in differences over whether or not ritual zabîha slaughter (as for Hajj sacrifice) is required for meat to be permissible for Muslims. Wording in the legislation recently passed in Illinois is a case in point.*

Now that non-Muslims are advertising that they offer "halal food" there is an increasing concern that vendors may resort to fraud in order to take advantage of this increasingly lucrative niche market. Rather than rely on certification by well-known Muslim organizations, some Muslims have resorted to lobbying for protective legislation. While the first such bill, passed in New Jersey, has been hailed as a model of consumer protection, the most recently passed legislation in Illinois reveals the hidden danger in letting non-Muslim legislators intervene in religious matters at the behest of Muslim activists with no training in Muslim jurisprudence.

The New Jersey law was modeled on exiting kosher food legislation that had passed the test of court challenges as to whether such laws ran afoul of Church-State separation concerns. The method Jews had used to deal with the issue was to first set up their own voluntary certification boards and then use the apparatus of government to pursue anyone who misleadingly used kosher symbols on products that didn't meet the standards implied by the symbols.

The beauty of this system, and the reason it did not violate the non-establishment clause ("Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof....") of the First Amendment, was that internal disagreements among Jewish scholars as to how strictly kosher rules need be interpreted was accommodated by the variety of certification board symbols. Thus, even though kosher food manufacturing is a $30 billion industry, only about seven percent of kosher food is "strictly kosher." Yet the government does not get involved in disagreements between orthodox and other Jews over what is and what is not kosher.

The government only assures that something considered kosher in one interpretation isn't passed off as having been approved under another interpretation. Thus, the New Jersey law specifies "Any dealer who prepares, distributes, sells or exposes for sale any food represented to be halal shall disclose the basis upon which that representation is made…."

Some might not think this is of no significance to Muslims since our dietary laws are much simpler than Jewish laws, but they would be mistaken. Consider, for example, the Qur'anic commandment that the food of the "People of the Book" (followers of pre-Qur'anic revelation) has been made halâl to the Muslims. (Kassaimah 2001) explained the differences among the Muslim schools of thought as to whether the People of the Book must follow strict Islamic zabîha methods. In order for legislation to avoid crossing the line into an illegal establishment of religion, it must not take sides in a dispute. The Illinois law clearly does take sides: "Halal means prepared under and maintained in strict compliance with the laws and customs of the Islamic religion including but not limited to those laws and customs of zabiha/zabeeha (slaughtered according to appropriate Islamic code), and as expressed by reliable recognized entities and scholars" (Emphasis added.) The use of the word "and" in the places emphasized makes it clear that mere compliance with Islamic law (Shari'a), or with recognized certification boards or scholars, is not enough. One must also be in compliance with the customary zabîhah.

However, unintentionally, the drafters of the Illinois legislation will make Muslims who wish to follow Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi's guidelines of what constitutes halal meat (see Kassaimah 2001) into law-breakers. If I were to open a restaurant in Chicago and get my meat from a kosher supplier, I would be defined as a criminal for telling my Muslim customers that as Muslims the meat I serve is permissible for them. By the same token, as a Muslim consumer, my own choices have become more limited as various sources of halal meat now available may no longer advertise themselves as halal.*

Ironically, this could cause a reversal in the current trend among Muslims to be more cautious about the sources of our food. As it becomes common knowledge that law prohibits labeling permissible meats as "halal," Muslims increasingly may buy food not marked "halal" on the presumption that it is not so marked because of the excessive restrictiveness of the Illinois law rather than due to a flaw in the meat (like containing pork!).

It would be best to rectify this mistake in the Illinois law by bringing it in closer to conformity to the New Jersey model. Such an amendment would allow certification boards that require zabîha ritual requirements for halal meat to adopt a nomenclature like "strict zabiha" to distinguish their standard from the "halal" or permissible standard, categorically defined in the Qur'an (16:115-116): "He has only forbidden you dead meat and blood and the flesh of swine and any [food] over which the name of other than God has been invoked. But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor transgressing due limits then God is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. But say not for any false thing that your tongues may put forth 'This is lawful and this is forbidden' so as to ascribe false things to God. For those who ascribe false things to God will never prosper."

While amending the law so soon after its passage may seem embarrassing, to have the law overturned on constitutional grounds would be worse. It could engender in lawmakers a general fear of such legislation that might make it harder to pass constitutionally valid bills in the future.*

Ansar Al-'Adl
03-20-2005, 10:56 PM
How accurate is this article?

Kosher Labeling: How It Works

The system of labeling products Kosher goes back at least 100 years in America. Jews who are strict about maintaining Jewish dietary laws need to know which products, both meat and non-meat, are fit for consumption. Kosher labeling is one major way to determine this.

There are about 300 Kosher certification agencies in the U.S. There are also a number of different Kosher labels.

Sound Vision spoke to Rabbi Moshe Elefant, executive rabbinical coordinator of the Orthodox Union (OU) based in Manhattan, New York to explain his organization's Kosher labeling system.

Rabbi Elefant administers the OU's worldwide Kosher programs. The OU maintains one of the strictest standards of Kosher as an Orthodox Jewish Organization, although they also serve non-Orthodox Jewish communities.

"We certify 4500 facilities in 68 countries around the world and every one of the 50 states in the United States," he noted in a telephone interview with Sound Vision.

The OU has been doing Kosher labeling for the past 100 years in the US Their first client, Heinz ketchup, is still labeled by them.

The different Kosher labels

The OU's Kosher label is indicated by their initials, but there are other Kosher agencies with different labels as well.

Some of these are: MK, OK (Organized Kashruth) and a star with the letter "K" in it.

The difference in Kosher labeling companies is explained by the fact that "a lot of local Jewish communities have their own rabbinical board," says rabbi Elefant, which determine Kosher standards and have their own symbols.

These labels go not just on meat, but also on everyday items like cereal, for instance. For a product to gain the OU's approval and label, not only does the product itself have to be Kosher, but all ingredients added to it, including flavors must pass the test of Kosher approval.

Difference in understanding of what is "Kosher"

One explanation for the difference in Kosher labels is that there are different views amongst rabbis about what exactly passes as fit for Jewish consumption and what does not.

"There are differences of opinion on the definition of Kosher law," rabbi Elefant notes. "Every rabbi is entitled to interpret the law as he sees correct. Our job as rabbis is to take ancient law and adapt it to modern technology. Obviously when you're doing that there are going to be differences of opinion."

However, he adds that "many of us share the same (Kosher) standard" and emphasized that buyers of Kosher products are the ones who ultimately have to select food based on their understanding of Kosher.

"The consumer is to judge if the supervision on the product meets their level," he says.

How to get Kosher certification for products through the OU

If a company wants Kosher certification from the OU, Rabbi Elefant explained that the process works in the following manner:

1. The company must apply to the OU for certification.

2. The OU examines if all of the ingredients used are Kosher. This means the following:

a. the product cannot mix meat and milk products (so for example, a cheeseburger cannot be Kosher).

b. anything that is animal derived in the product has to come from an animal that is slaughtered by a rabbi and also examined for any internal wounds.

c. if any part of the product is processed on equipment that also processes non-Kosher material, the product is automatically rendered non-Kosher.

d. anything pork related being present in the product automatically makes it non-Kosher.

3. The OU dispatches a rabbi to check out a company that has applied for certification. The OU tries to use one of its rabbis to do an initial inspection at the company's facility which is really a feasibility study to determine how the OU can create a Kosher program at the company's facility.

4. Once that program is established, a contract is signed whereby the company is now obligated to follow the Kosher standards.

5. A rabbi visits the plant on a periodic, unannounced basis to make sure that the company is maintaining Kosher standards. This unannounced visit can happen anywhere from twice a year to everyday. Some plants have full time rabbinical staff.

Kosher meat is much more complicated

Kosher meat on the other hand, is much more complex and the standards are stricter. It is important to note that Jews careful about Jewish dietary laws would not eat meat slaughtered by a non-Jew, even if it was slaughtered in the correct manner because "that's what the rules say," according to Rabbi Elefant.

The process of going from meat to Kosher meat entails the following:

Choosing the right type of animal

The following animals can never be considered Kosher: horse, pig, camel, lions, tiger.

Fish also gain a Kosher designation. All Kosher fish have fins and scales.

Choosing the right person to slaughter the animal

The animal has to be slaughtered in a prescribed manner by a rabbi who is trained in that craft . He is called a Shochet or the ritual slaughterer. He has to be a trained Jewish person.

Slaughtering the animal in the prescribed manner

The process of Kosher slaughter is the following:

First the animal is inspected for any internal wounds. If it has any, then it is not considered Kosher.

If there are no wounds, certain veins which are prohibited by Jewish dietary laws are removed. One example of this is the sciatic nerve, which is located around the thigh.

Once this is done, all blood in the animal is removed. It is forbidden to consume blood. This removal is done through a salting process. The animal is rinsed three times and salted twice.

After this process, the meat can be considered Kosher.

The price of certification

There is no set price for Kosher certification/ Rabbi Elefant says the OU's prices for Kosher certification are based on cost.

The first thing the OU determines is how much it will cost to set up their program in a company that has applied for Kosher certification.

"If you're facilities are in remote areas, you want an agency that can get there and administer the program. Cost is a consideration," explains the rabbi.

In the OU's case, the money generated from certification goes back into the nonprofit organization.

Abuse in the use of labels

The abuse of the Kosher labels is not uncommon.

"We're a trademark symbol," says Rabbi Elefant of the OU's Kosher label. "No one's allowed to use that symbol without our authorization. Unfortunately it does happen that we do find our symbol used without authorization."

"The first thing we do is that we demand that they (the offending party) cease and desist from using our symbol," he explains. Following this, the OU demands a recall of that product if it is not Kosher. If it is, then in consultation with their lawyers, they determine what to do.

He notes that usually problem is fixed simply. At times it's not that simple, so they have to go court and sue for the misuse of OU's trademark symbol.

03-20-2005, 11:32 PM
How accurate is this article? It's quite accurate at describing how some companies aquire a seal of approval.

For more specific info check http://www.ou.org/kosher/primer.html

If you haven't noticed, there are many factors in this. One lesser known one is the Kosherness/Halalness of Cheese. The common manufacturer will add some enzymes extracted from a calf to the cheese to make it coagulate faster. Kosher/Halal cheeses do not do this and either use synthetic enzymes (cheaper kosher cheese) or no enzymes at all (EXPENSIVE kosher cheese). Without enzymes, the cheese takes a long time to coagulate.

One thing I will mention is GLATT Kosher, which is the best kind of Kosher for meat.

Though not all adhesions render an animal non-kosher, some Jewish communities or individuals only eat meat of an animal that has been found to be free of all adhesions on its lungs. "Glatt" literally means “smooth”, indicating that the meat comes from an animal whose lungs have been found to be free of all adhesions. Recently, the term "glatt kosher" is increasingly used more broadly as a generic phrase, implying that the product is kosher without question. Glatt meat, due to this additional step, is of even HIGHER quality than plain kosher, and is usually slightly more expensive (although you get what you pay for! It even tastes better, I assure you).

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 22
    Last Post: 11-10-2011, 06:08 PM
  2. Replies: 8
    Last Post: 10-26-2008, 01:32 AM
  3. Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-25-2008, 06:25 PM
  4. Replies: 27
    Last Post: 05-30-2008, 12:01 PM
  5. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-23-2007, 01:33 AM