HOT OFF THE HOTLINE: Kosher is Healthier

“Do you really know what Kosher means?”
“I think so.”
“Fine, so tell me, what is Kosher?”
“Kosher means that the food is clean and healthy.”
“No, Kosher means that the food production was blessed by a Rabbi.”

It is not uncommon to hear these impressions and misconceptions from consumers that are totally unaware of the meaning of Kosher or what makes something Kosher.

So what is Kosher? We smile politely and set the record straight. “No, the Rabbi does not bless the production process.” Food is Kosher when its ingredients and manufacturing procedures conform with the Jewish dietary requirements. These requirements are outlined in the Torah and further clarified in the Shulchan Aruch. Once these dietary requirements are met, the food may be eaten and enjoyed by Jewish consumers. The blessing over the food can now be recited before beginning to eat.

Surprisingly, a whole area of Kashrus observance is predicated upon health concerns. These laws and customs have been culled throughout the millennia from the Talmud, Shulchan Aruch and their commentators, and are umbrellaed under the general category of shmiras haguf v’hanefesh- Health Precautions.

The Star-K consumer hotline gets many inquiries regarding these Halachos. Kashrus Kurrents would like to share some of the frequently asked questions with our readership, and the answers provided by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, our Rabbinic Administrator.

I. Mixing Fish & Meat
Q: Eating fish together with either meat or poultry is forbidden. Worchestshire Sauce often has anchovies as one of its ingredients. If the anchovies comprise less than 1.67% of the blend, since the fish is butel bishishim in the Worchestshire blend, can this be used to flavor meat or poultry?
A: Yes.

Q: Is one permitted to cook fish in a meat pot or fry fish in a meat frying pan?
A: Technically, according to most opinions, it is permitted, however, Star-K policy does not allow its caterers to do so.

Q: According to those opinions that permit cooking or frying fish in a meat utensil, does it make a difference if the meat utensil that the person wants to use is a ben yomo(i.e. the meat utensil was used to cook or fry meat within the last 24 hours)?
A: No.

Q: Can you simultaneously cook fish and meat in separate, uncovered pots in an oven?
A: No.

Q: Is it permissible to simultaneously cook fish and meat in separate, covered pots in an oven?
A: Yes.

Q: If meat and fish were cooked together in one pot, what is the status of the pot that was used?
A: According to most opinions, the pot is permitted. However, the Star-K does not allow the pot to be used.

Q: Is there a Halachic difference between the process of cooking fish and meat or broiling fish and meat together?
A: No.

II. Peeled Onions, Garlic, & Eggs
Q: Leaving peeled onions, garlic, or cracked eggs overnight is forbidden (Nidda 17A). Is there any permissible way to leave them overnight?
A: a. Leave the head whiskers of the onion or garlic clove intact.
b. Leave the onion or garlic skin on the unused portion intact.
c. Leave the shell on the egg.

Q: Does it help to cover the raw onions, garlic, or cracked eggs, and leave them overnight?
A: No.

Q: If eggs and onions are mixed in a salad, can they be kept overnight?
A: Yes.

Q: Is one permitted to use peeled or chopped fresh raw onions from a produce company?
A: The custom is to use the onions based on Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah, Volume 3 #20.

III. Food and Beverages Under a Bed
Q: Food and beverages are not permitted to be placed under a bed. Is there a difference between closed and open products?
A: No (Pesachim 112A; Yoreh Deah 116 #4 & 5 – Shach).

Q: When does the product become forbidden?
A: If someone slept in a bed with food underneath, then if one only realized after the fact bdieved, the food is allowed. (Response of Shvus Yaakov & Rabbi Akiva Eiger)

Q: Is it forbidden to leave food in a stroller under a sleeping child?
A: Yes.

Q: Is there any way to reverse the status of food to make it permissible once it became forbidden?
A: Wash Negel Vasser over it, or put it in a Mikva. Where this is not practical, the food is still permitted. (Chazon Ish)

IV. Uncovered Beverages
Q: Are we permitted to drink uncovered beverages that are left unattended?
A: The custom is to use it. (Yoreh Deah 116 #1)

Q: What beverages are we referring to?
A: Water, milk, olive oil, and wine.

Q: According to the authorities who strictly enforce this prohibition, what time period qualifies for an unattended beverage?
A: Three seconds. (the Shla & Gra)