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Sunday, November 12, 2006

How Do You Know A Processed Product Is Kosher?

Kosher houses usually only buy certain processed foods marked as kosher and they have a special symbol on the wrapping. (The OU of the Orthodox Union and Kof-K are common ones). These symbols are usually printed on the wrappers and unless you know where to look for them you probably have seen them a hundred times and just ignored them. To see a fairly complete listing of trusted Kosher symbols (meaning the process of creating the product is checked and overseen by someone called a "mashgiach" in Hebrew) go to Kosher Symbols. Before going on a simple "K" or the word "Kosher" or "Kosher Style" means nothing. Anyone can write that on their products. The symbols are always part of Trademark and let kosher people know who is behind the stamp.

Why are there so many? Well some are regional. And yet others are stricter. Thus a very orthodox Jew may not accept every one of these symbols. (It gets complicated as all things in religion seem to do..sigh) But all in all it just proves that no matter where one goes in the US - there is no lack of kosher food supply. You would be surprised what a short trip in your local supermarket or grocery story would produce for a kosher meal.

Some of the common ones look like (just to give you an idea and this is not an endorsement either way):

Tri-State Kashruth, Vaad Hoer of Cincinnati -

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations (one of the more famous and trusted) -
KOF-K Kosher Supervision -

The best thing to do is to view the above mentioned web site, Kosher Symbols, if you are in doubt and have to feed kosher people (like me! Just remember the matchmaking meals!)

These days most products in the large cities of the United States carry one or the other Kosher seal. As I live in Jerusalem, Israel, getting kosher products is a bit easier. In Europe and Canada it works differently. Simply stated, the way a product is evaluated as Kosher is a thorough check is made on all the ingredients within that product.

As a child, when Pop took me to the supermarket, I would stare in jealousy at all the great looking products that were not Kosher, and he under no condition would allow them in the house. So it should come as no surprise that I certainly am all for getting more and more products evaluated as kosher. But once Oreo cookies became Kosher and got the seal of kosher approval, the heavenly gates opened up in gratuitous song. Today, I eat them down with a guilty fervor as if I am finally allowed to eat the non-Kosher products once denied to us. Don’t tell your kids or your physical trainer but Oreo cookies coupled with a box (or two) of Mike & Ike candies are just what the doctor ordered at times. (Heaven!!!!!!!!)

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