Kosher means “proper” of “acceptable”. It describe foods that have been prepared following Jewish religious dietary laws based on the Old Testament Bible . The most common symbol is the “U”, a certification mark issued by the Orthodox Union. Not only Jews recognize kosher. It is a eating choice followed my millions for lifestyle, dietary restrictions, and health reasons. Over $150 million of Kosher products are consumed annually.

Basic Principles of Kosher

  1. Some animals are forbidden to be eaten
  2. Kosher animals must be slaughtered by making a quick, deep stroke across the throat of the animal with a perfectly sharp blade with no knicks or unevenness
  3. The blood must be thoroughly drained from the animal before it is eaten
  4. Certain parts of kosher animals must not be eaten
  5. Fruits and vegetables must be inspected for bugs
  6. Meat and dairy must not be consumed together
  7. Utensils and equipment that come in contact with meat must not come in contact with dairy and vice versa
  8. Utensils and equipment that come in contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food
  9. All units in the food including processing aid must be kosher

Kosher Dietary Restrictions

  1. All fruits and vegetables are kosher unless they contain bugs and worms
  2. Land animals that meet two criteria are kosher i.e. (1) chew the cud, and (2) divide the hoof (Lev. 11: 1-3) e.g. cattle, sheep, goat, deer and bison. The following are specifically forbidden because they do not meet both of these criteria: swine, camel, rock hyrax and rabbit (Lev. 11:4-8)
  3. Aquatic animals that has fins and scales are kosher. Therefore shellfish such as oysters, clam, shrimp, and lobsters are forbidden (Lev. 11:9-11)
  4. The Torah provides a list of forbidden birds but did not give a reason why they were forbidden. They include: eagle, vulture, buzzard, kite, falcon, ravens, ostriches, owl, sea gull, hawk, jackdaw, stork, heron, hoopee and birds of these kinds; and the bat (Lev. 11:13-19)
  5. Locusts, crickets and grasshoppers and their kinds are kosher (Lev. 11:22). However there are controversies among the Jewish community about eating these creatures. All other flying insects are forbidden. (Lev. 11:23)
  6. Mouse, moles, sand reptiles and lizards are forbidden (Lev. 11: 29-30)
  7. Any animal that creeps on all fours or crawls on its belly, and whatever has many feet among creeping things (Lev. 11: 41-43)
  8. Animals that died of natural causes or that was killed by other animals are forbidden (Deut 14:21)
  9. Foods containing blood is forbidden (Lev. 7:26-27, Lev. 17:10-14). Therefore, slaughtered animals must be properly drained and the remaining blood removed by broiling, soaking or salting 
  10. Fats surrounding vital organs (referred to as chelev) are forbidden (Lev 7:22-25)
  11. Meat and dairy (including products containing any such ingredients regardless of quantity) must be eaten separately based on an interpretation of the writing in the Torah that instructs not to “boil a kid in its mother’s milk” (Ex. 23:19; Ex 34:26; Deut. 14:21). The oral Torah (based on rabbinic traditions and not written by Moses) also prohibits the commingling of meat and dairy utensils and equipment.
  12. Kosher foods heated on equipment that are non-kosher are thus rendered non-kosher
  13. Any product made from non-kosher animals are forbidden

Steps to Certification by the Orthodox Union

  1. Submit application
  2. A Rabbinic Coordinator (RC) is assigned to handle your application and to guide you through the process
  3. A qualified Rabbinic Field Representative (RFR) visits your food processing plant to observe the operation and determine feasibility to certify your products as Kosher.
  4. The inspection report is reviewed by the RC to determine if a certification can be granted or changes are needed in the operation to meet Kosher requirements
  5. Upon meeting all requirements, the RC drafts a contact which you will sign. The contact is a commitment to meet all Kosher requirements under the certification


  • Courtney Simons

    Dr. Courtney Simons has served as a food science researcher and educator for over a decade. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Food Science and a Ph.D. in Cereal Science from North Dakota State University.