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What is Kosher?

Kosher food is food prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary guidelines or Kashrut which means "proper". Any food can be called kosher food if it follows the proper guidelines.


Conversely, foods typically labeled as "Jewish" aren’t necessarily Kosher. The word "kosher" isn't used for only food, however. Kosher basically means something that follows all the Jewish legal guidelines.

What are some laws governing kosher food?

According to the Torah, the five books of Moses, cloven-hoofed, cud-chewing mammals are kosher. Deer,   sheep, and goats are all considered kosher foods.

  • Only certain birds are considered kosher in the United States. Chicken, duck, goose, and turkey.


  • Lobster lovers might be dismayed to find that for a fish to be kosher, it must have fins and easily removable scales. In most cases, scales must be present on the fish in order to be purchased by the consumer. There’s more. If a fishmonger isn’t kosher, that means his cutting implements and machines aren’t kosher either. If it is to be considered kosher food, it must be prepared with kosher equipment.


  • Fish and meat cannot be served together.


  • Milk and meat cannot be served together.


  • Processed food must be prepared in the presence of a rabbi.


  • Poultry and meat must be slaughtered under strict guidelines called “shechita.” This means the animals are slaughtered without pain. Only those who are trained and qualified are allowed to slaughter kosher animals.   Once the animal is no longer alive, another team of experts will examine the animal to be sure the animal is without illness, abnormalities or anything else that can be considered unsanitary. The lungs, in particular, must be pure. In addition, all blood and most fat must be removed.


  • Families who eat only kosher food must use two separate sets of utensils, pots, pans, and dishes. One set is for poultry or meat, and the other for dairy foods. In addition, these dishes and utensils can’t be washed together. If a kitchen has two sinks, it is an ideal setup for a kosher family.

  • There are many other rules to be followed for anything to be considered kosher food. Suffice it to say that if one is purchasing prepared food, one must examine the packaging to be sure the food has the kosher certification.

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