According to Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon of KSA Kosher, several misconceptions exist about the term “kosher.” Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon explains that kosher most often describes food permitted for consumption by people who observe Jewish dietary law.
Q: Why are certain food products considered non-kosher?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Foods may be rendered non-kosher for a variety of reasons, including the species of animal and improper slaughtering or processing procedures.
Q: What else?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: The mixing of meat and dairy ingredients is forbidden. Plus, the usage of ingredients drawn from non-kosher sources is not allowed under Kashrus law.
Q: Define Kashrus.
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Kashrus, the term used to explain the concept of dietary laws, relates to the kinds of food permissible for preparation and consumption.
Q: What animals are considered kosher?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Cattle or bovine are deemed kosher because they have cloven hooves and chew cud. If an animal does not possess both of these distinctions, it is strictly forbidden.
Q: What other characteristics should kosher consumers examine?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: The animal being slaughtered must have no flaw or disease. Further, the origin of the animal is a major concern to kosher production.
Q: What are some examples of kosher animals?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Examples of kosher animals are sheep, goats, lambs, cows, bulls, springbok and veal.
Q: What about the animal’s milk?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: The milk from non-kosher animals is strictly prohibited.
Q: Are there any other restrictions?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Dairy products may not contain any non-kosher additives, and they may not include meat derivatives or products.
Q: What’s an example of these products?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Many kinds of cheese have been manufactured using rennet. Therefore, they would need kosher certification.
Q: Can kosher consumers ever trust preprocessed foods?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Only the kosher certification symbol verifies a product’s viability. Many preprocessed foods contain small portions of milk products. One example of a popular milk product is whey.
Q: Have these been deemed non-kosher?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: According to food regulations, such small additives in these products do not have to be labeled on packaging. Nonetheless, these products would still be rendered dairy.
Q: How are kosher animals slaughtered?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: To be eaten by the kosher consumer, a species must be slaughtered in a ritual known as “Schochet.”
Q: What does Schochet mean?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: Jewish law prohibits causing any pain to animals during the slaughter, so death must occur almost instantaneously for the animal to be deemed kosher. The Schochet is the rabbi performing the ritual.
Q: How is the animal prepared for cooking after the slaughter?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: After the animal is slaughtered, the kosher supervisor treats the carcass by removing certain forbidden veins and fats.
Q: How are the animals cleaned?
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon: All blood from the animal should be drained or cooked out of meat before the consumer eats it.
Rabbi Binyomin Lisbon is the chief administrator of KSA Kosher, the largest kosher certification agency in the Western United States.