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Kosher foods are products that have been processed and prepared according to the strict dietary rules of the Jewish religion. In the case of kosher milk and such other kosher dairy products as cheese, they must come from animals that are kosher. There are several schools of thought today concerning which milk products should be labeled kosher. The first viewpoint is the stricter and more traditional way, which says kosher milk comes straight from the cow on the dairy farm. Another opinion says that every step in the process of milk production has been overseen and has adhered to rabbinical laws. Yet another school of thought maintains that government supervision, such as that of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, is sufficient.
Adhering to kosher rules means that kosher milk and milk products cannot be prepared using the same utensils or pots or pans that have been used to prepare meat dishes. There is also a time constraint concerning how far apart the two types of foods may be consumed. There are also calculations provided to determine if a product, such as kosher milk, will still be considered kosher if additives, such as vitamins, are included in the product. Consumers other than people of the Jewish faith may also buy kosher milk and kosher food. Vegetarians, for example, can buy kosher milk and be assured it does not contain any meat, meat products, or additives.
Jewish laws regulate not only kosher milk and kosher meat products, but also when these products may be consumed. The time that is required to elapse after eating one and before eating the other varies by location, in general, but a few guidelines exist. Eating dairy, for example, requires a shorter wait before meat can be consumed. A meal that contains meat requires a longer waiting period before milk can be consumed.
People who want to “keep kosher,” or adhere to kosher cooking and a kosher diet, are likely to find that the most difficult aspects are determining which items in their groceries are actually kosher. There are packaging symbols that proclaim foods’ kosher status, but there are a number of different symbols created by different agencies. The hardest part for many home cooks not accustomed to kosher laws is learning how to keep milk and meat products separate.