The word ‘kosher’ is one of those things that you hear a lot but hardly know what it means. The complete term is actually glatt kosher and originally what it means is meat that comes from an animal that has smooth lungs. But nowadays, kosher has come to mean a food product that follows the strict standards specified in the kashrut.
The Kashrut is a set of Jewish dietary laws that has its basis on biblical laws and the teachings of rabbis. For those who follow the kashrut, it is important that they only eat food that is considered kosher. There are many ways of finding out if a food product or item is kosher.
One of the most obvious ways of determining kosher food is by looking for symbols that signify that the food has undergone the proper preparations to make it kosher. These symbols are included in the label or packaging and is quite conspicuous. One of the agencies that certify kosher food is the Chicago Rabbinical Council, which has been performing this role for more than fifty years. The symbol of the agency is CRC and this is what is printed on the packaging to signify that the food product has been inspected and meets the kosher standards.
Another agency that certifies kosher food products is the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, which uses the symbol OU. Food that has the OU symbol is known to have passed the strictest standards. Other agencies or symbols that are usually found on food products include the Triangle K, Kof-K and Star-k, which has become famous for instituting some of the most technologically advanced means in preparing kosher food.
Another way of determining kosher food is by looking at the sub categories. This is a handy way of determining if a food product is comprised of meat or dairy ingredients or if it is neither. For example, if the following things are placed near the kosher symbol – ‘meat’, ‘m’, or ‘glatt – then it means that the product has a meat ingredient. An ‘F’, on the other hand means that it contains a fish ingredient. The word Pareve or Parev or Parve next to the symbol indicates that the product does not contain meat or dairy ingredients. On the other hand, a ‘P’ placed beside the symbol means that the product is kosher all throughout the year and can also be used for Passover.
Image from ulove.org.uk