Kosher means ‘proper.’ So, in a nutshell, kosher food follows the guidelines set by Jewish Dietary Laws. These laws were set in the Talmud and other Jewish religious books. Some kinds of animal meat are considered non-kosher (like pork, catfish, shellfish, rabbit, reptile meat, and some types of bird meat). There are also strict rules on how the meat should be killed, and even in the way they are prepared. For example, dairy products can not be made or consumed with meat products.
However, there is just part of what it takes for a food to be certified as ‘kosher.’ Read on to find out more guidelines that most people overlook.
To be certified kosher, even the individual ingredients must meet these Jewish Dietary Laws. For example, a cake that includes a food coloring made from shellfish will immediately be non-kosher. It can be difficult for a consumer to know how a product was prepared, which is why some websites such as oukosher.org have listed some brands that have submitted their products for examination and certification. Organizations such as these will scrutinize, for example, if the raisins in the cereal contain an animal-based glycerin, or if the potato chips were fried in vegetable oil that was pasteurized in a factory that made non-kosher products.
Many brands that have received kosher certification will carry that seal of approval on their packaging. Consumers can also shop at groceries or shops that sell only kosher food. And if you can not find that kind of product or store near your home, you can now scour the Internet for websites that sell and deliver kosher products.
However, it is not just Jews who buy kosher food. In fact, Muslims comprise 16% of the United States’ kosher market, because the Kosher guidelines are very similar to their own dietary laws (called Halal, set in the Quran). And there are also people who buy kosher food not for religious reasons, but health reasons. They believe that the high Kosher standards make food safer to eat.
Photo from wineinyourdiet.com