1. Does someone have to be Jewish to eat Kosher?

Not at all! While the term Kosher refers to food which is ‘proper’ according to Jewish dietary laws it certainly does not mean that only Jews eat Kosher. Kosher foods are coveted by millions of people of all creeds and religions due to the perceived value of the ‘wholesomeness’ of the foods and the fact that extra stringencies in examining what goes into the foods is performed above what government agencies may do.

In addition to Jews eating Kosher, Muslims, Evangelical Christians, 7th Day Adventists, Vegetarians, Vegans, and just about anyone seeks out Kosher when appropriate for them.

2. Is it difficult to keep kosher?

In general no, not at all. There are so many foods which are inherently kosher and then today there are thousands upon thousands of foods which are kosher certified so the options are limitless. Although the laws of Kosher are extensive, some basic rules are:

1. According to the Torah ( Bible) only certain species of animals are kosher, and in all cases animals that fall under the category of meat must have cloven hoofs and chew their cud. If an animal exhibits one characteristic but not the other they are NOT kosher.

2. Of the animals which constitute poultry and fish it is clearly stated which species are prohibited. Birds are listed while any fish which have fins and scales are kosher and any which do not, such as shellfish, are not.

3. Even for kosher breeds of animals they must be ritually slaughtered according to the humane methods called for in the Torah and all blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it before it is eaten.  

4. Milk and Meat may NOT be mixed together.

5. Milk products can be eaten before meat without any time frame in between other than in the ase of hard cheeses, while NO milk products may be consumed AFTER eating meat for a period of 6 hours.

6. Even in kosher animals there are restrictions on the consumption of certain fats, the blood, and the sciatic nerve.

7. Separate dishes and utensils must be used for milk and meat food and they can NOT be reused for the other.

8. In cases where food is heated, utensils which were used with non-kosher food may not be used for kosher food due to the issue of absorption of the elements of one food into another.

9. During the holiday of Passover Jews do not eaten foods which contain ‘Chometz’ or leavened agents. Any food which is normally kosher must then have additional stringencies during Passover in order to be Kosher for Passover.

10. Food cooked for a Jewish person is supposed to be under the supervision of that person and so for example a Jewish person must turn on the flame on an oven and then a non-jew can complete the cooking process. The idea behind this is that a Jewish person who does this will certainly be aware of the ingredients going into what is being cooked for one and secondly it is to reduce the reliance on others when it comes to the all important issue of Kashurs.

  3. What kind of food has to be kosher?

All foods which require cooking or processing require kosher inspection. Fruits and vegetables in a raw state or cooked stand alone are in general kosher but still require inspection for infestation of bugs. Any time any type of flavoring, binders, fillers, or other food agents are introduced the situation requires greater scrutiny. All meat, dairy, wines, seafood, processed foods, etc… must all be checked. Even vitamins and dietary supplements require inspection due to the high degree of ingredients which are infused into them.

4. Who decides the laws of Kosher?

Kosher or the laws of Kashrus are clearly stated in the written Torah. Over the centuries the Rabbis further spelled out and explained the specifics of Kosher in the Oral Torah in the Talmud, Mishnah, and Gemmara. The laws of kosher are irrefutable, that being said some leading authorities allow leniences where others add stringencies which affect acceptance of kosher standards. It is always required to speak to a Rabbi in cases of questions about Kashrus and to consistently follow the advice of one or a group of rabbis who adhere to a particular standard.

5. Who performs kosher supervision?

Kosher supervision is performed by a Rabbi or other competently trained professional who understands and knows well the laws of Kashrus and the intricacies in food production. There are specialized experts still yet for dealing with issues of Klilayim or ‘mixtures such as wool and linen in clothing and technological issues such as ‘kosher oven’s with settings for warming foods which stay on throughout the Sabbath and do not deviate in temperature which would results in ‘cooking’ which is forbidden on the Sabbath as an element of the use of fire.

6. What all is involved in the kosher certification process?

First a mashgiach or kosher supervisor must ascertain what a company produces and if the products can be certified kosher in the first place. Then they will investigate the entire process from raw materials to inputs to equipment used in production to make sure that at NO point is there contamination of non-kosher elements into kosher ones. This involves visiting the production facilities and inspecting them in detail. Any corrective actions which must be taken are notified and when all parameters are met the product can be certified kosher.

7. In situations where a company manufactures many different products but only desires to kosher certify some of them can they still receive kosher certification?

Absolutely! Individual products as well as whole factories can be certified as kosher. In cases where there are kosher and non-kosher products made in the same plant the production line must be fully ‘Kashured’ through heat purgation BEFORE any kosher production can begin. Raw materials for kosher certified products must be securely stored and not come in contact with materials that are non-kosher. Strict processes must be followed to ensure everything is kept separate but with patience and proper planning it can be done.

8. What are the costs involved to have kosher supervision and be kosher certified?

The general costs involved with kosher supervision include the travel expenses and site visits to the plant and the investigation into raw materials and processes. Depending on how many products are being evaluated and how much of the raw ingredients are already kosher will determine the time required for supervision. Follow up requirements are also a factor but ALL costs will be determined upfront prior to initiating the process and should not deviate from the estimate given unless compliance issues come up.

9. What kind of return on investment should a company expect from having kosher certification?

This is difficult to answer because it will depend on the business model for each company. Once you understand what kosher is you have to identify if your product will appeal to kosher consumers and if that appeal is great enough to cover the costs of getting certification.

Since so many diverse groups of consumers look for kosher products, in most instances the answer is that it will provide a very good return. Taking into account the fact that Kosher certification is the most sought after certification that exists and that distributors and supermarkets seek kosher products because their customers desire them means you should have very good prospects.

10. How long does the certification process take?

In many cases from the time you make an initial inquiry until the time you can receive certification can be as little as a few weeks. The time involved all depends on how thorough a company is when filing their application and how organized the site inspection is. If an inspector can quickly determine all inputs into the process it can take only weeks to gain certification. The more ingredients involved which are not already kosher certified and the more complex the production process the more likely it is that multiple visits and intense research and evaluation will be required.