A. Meat:
The Torah (Leviticus Chapter 11) lists the characteristics of permitted mammals and fish, and enumerates the forbidden fowl. The only mammals permitted are those which chew their cud (ruminants) and are cloven hoofed.

B. Poultry:
The Torah does not enumerate specific characteristics to distinguish permitted from forbidden birds. Instead, it enumerates 24 forbidden species of fowl. The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) states that we may eat only those birds for which there is an established tradition that the bird is kosher. In the United States, the only poultry prepared for the kosher market are chicken, turkey, duck and goose.

C. Fish:
The Torah establishes two criteria in determining kosher fish. They must have fins and scales (cycloid and ctenoid). All shellfish are prohibited. Unlike meat and poultry, fish requires no special preparation. One, however, should not eat fish with meat. Filleted or ground fish should not be purchased unless one is assured that it comes from a kosher fish. Processed and smoked fish products require rabbinic supervision, as do all processed foods.


The processing of kosher meats and poultry requires that the animal be slaughtered in the manner prescribed by the Torah (Shechita).

A. Shechita:
Only a trained kosher slaughterer (shochet) whose piety and expertise have been attested to by rabbinic authorities is qualified to slaughter an animal. The trachea and esaphagus of the animal are severed with a special razor-sharp, perfectly smooth blade causing instantaneous death with no pain to the animal.

B. Bedika:
After the animal has been properly slaughtered, a trained inspector (bodek) inspects the internal organs for any physiological abnormalities that may render the animal non-kosher (treif). The lungs, in particular, must be examined to determine that there are no adhesions (sirchot) which may be indicative of a puncture in the lungs. If an adhesion is found, the bodek must examine it carefully to determine its kashruth status.

C. Glatt Kosher:
Though not all adhesions will necessarily render an animal treif, some Jewish communities or individuals only eat of an animal that has been found to be free of all adhesions. "Glatt" literally means smooth, indicating that the meat comes from an animal whose lungs have been found to be free of all adhesions. Of late, "Glatt Kosher" is used more broadly as a consumer phrase meaning kosher without question.

D. Nikkur:
There are special cutting procedures for beef, veal and lamb, called "Nikkur" in Hebrew. Many blood vessels, nerves, and lobes of fat are forbidden and must be removed; a costly and time-consuming procedure.

E. Koshering:
The Torah forbids the eating of the blood of an animal. The two methods of extracting blood from meat are salting and broiling. Meat once ground cannot be made kosher, nor may meat be placed in hot water before it has been "koshered".

- Salting:
The meat must first be soaked for a half hour in cool (not ice) water in a utensil designated only for that purpose. After allowing for excess water to drip off, the meat is thoroughly salted so that the entire surface is covered with salt. Only coarse salt should be used. In processing poultry, both the inside and outside of the slaughtered bird must be salted. All inside sections must be removed before the koshering process begins. Each part must be soaked and salted separately. If the meat had been sliced with a knife during the salting process, the surface of the cut must be soaked and salted as well. The salted meat is then left for an hour on an inclined or perforated surface to allow the blood to flow down freely. The cavity of the poultry should be placed open side down. After the salting, the meat must be thoroughly soaked and washed to remove all salt.

According to rabbinic law, meat must be koshered within 72 hours after slaughter so as not to permit the blood to congeal. If meat has been thoroughly soaked or rinsed, an additional seventy-two hours is granted for the salting process.

- Broiling:
An alternate means of "koshering" meat is through broiling. Liver may only be koshered through broiling, because of the preponderance of blood in it. Both the liver and meat must first be thoroughly washed to remove all surface blood. They are then salted slightly on all sides. Subsequently, they are broiled on a perforated grate over an open fire which draws out the internal blood. The liver must be broiled on both sides until the outer surface appears to be dry and brown. In addition, when koshering a liver, slits must be made in the liver prior to broiling. After broiling, they are rinsed off. Separate utensils should be used for the koshering of liver.

F. The Kosher Butcher:
Koshering and nikkur are usually the responsibility of the kosher butcher who must be a trained and reliable professional, as well as a man of integrity. In addition, the store must be under strict kashruth supervision.

G. Packaging:
From the time of slaughter, kosher meat and poultry must be properly tagged and labeled until it reaches the consumer. This requirement dictates that rabbinic supervision be maintained until the meat reaches the consumer. In the processing of meat, a metal tag called a plumba, bearing the kosher certification, serves as an identifying seal.

H. Caterers, Restaurants, Resorts:
Caterers, restaurants, and hotels should be supervised by a reputable Orthodox Rabbinic authority.

It cannot be assumed that kashruth is maintained simply because a kosher impression is created by an advertisement or by a statement, "we serve a kosher clientele." Too often, 'vegetarian' or 'dairy' restaurants are assumed to be kosher and beyond the need for supervision. Unfortunately, this is a prevalent misconception. For example, sea squab and sturgeon are non-kosher fish popular in many such eateries. Fish, baked goods, cheese, shortening, oil, eggs, margarine, dressings, and condiments are among the many foodstuffs requiring supervision in 'vegetarian' and 'dairy' restaurants. Even those food items that are kosher in their raw states, could be rendered non-kosher when prepared on equipment used for non-kosher food. In these restaurants, as in all other food serving establishments, reputable kashruth supervision is the best guarantee of kashruth.

The Waiting Time Between Eating Meat and Dairy: The laws of kashrut require that we wait a specified period of time between eating meat and eating dairy.

*After eating dairy and before eating meat, it is necessary to eat something pareve, which does not stick to the palate. Then one must rinse one’s mouth, or take a drink, and wash one’s hands. It is common practice to wait at least a half hour between dairy and meat. After eating certain hard cheeses, a six-hour waiting period is required.

*After eating meat foods, it is necessary to wait six full hours before eating any dairy. The six-hour waiting period is standard for all Jews, except those groups which have halachically established other customs. For people on special dairy diets, and for children under nine years old, consult an Orthodox Rabbi for guidance. If there are no special problems involved, it is advisable to train children at an earlier age in the practice of waiting between meat and dairy foods.

If a small piece of meat is discovered between the teeth, it is necessary to remove it and rinse the mouth, but an additional waiting period is not required (even if six hours have elapsed since eating meat). If even the smallest amount of food is chewed or swallowed, the full waiting period becomes necessary.

*If food is tasted but immediately eliminated from the mouth before chewing or swallowing, then no waiting period is required. One should rinse the mouth well.

NOTE: Meat and dairy foods may not be eaten in the same meal, even if they are in separate dishes and even if the waiting time elapses.




Learn how to prepare traditional and contemporary kosher dishes from around the world

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