MEAT & PROVISIONS
II. KOSHER MEAT, POULTRY, AND FISH
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.
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.
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.
III. KOSHER SLAUGHTERING
The processing of kosher meats and poultry requires that
the animal be slaughtered in the manner prescribed by the
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
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
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
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.
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".
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
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
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.
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
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
*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.