Meat and Dairy-A Kosher Consumer’s Handbook

Published Spring 2008

One of the best known halachos of kashrus is that one may not eat meat and milk together.  One of the reasons that kosher symbols incorporate a ‘D’ onto the kosher certification is to notify the consumer that the product may not be eaten together with meat, or within six hours after eating meat.  Similarly, products containing meat as an ingredient will state “meat” next to the Star-K or other kosher symbol.

In addition to the six hour waiting period, there are many other halachos that involve meat and milk.1 The following is a review of these halachos.2

1)   Not Eating Meat and Milk Together and Waiting After Eating Meat

Kosher homes typically have two sets cookeware3, dishes, and cutlery – one for meat and one for dairy.4 This is because it is Biblically prohibited5 to eat something that contains both milk and meat that were cooked together. 

Because of this concern,6 the Rabbis decreed that one who wants to eat a dairy product must wait six hours7 after eating meat.8 A person is “fleishig”,9 even if he chewed the meat and removed it from his mouth. The waiting period is also required if one ate meat or chicken soup, or a “tavshil shel basar,” food cooked with meat, even though one did not eat the meat (e.g. a cholent potato).10 One must wait six hours after swallowing the last piece of meat. One is not required to wait six hours after Birchas Hamazon. If one is unsure what time he finished eating meat, he should wait until six hours have definitely passed before eating dairy food.11

If one who ate meat within the hour forgot and said a bracha on a dairy item,12 he should not eat the item but rather say “Baruch Shaim Kvod…”, as he has recited a bracha l’vatala. If an hour has passed, he is permitted to taste and swallow the dairy food.13 If one inadvertently ate dairy before six hours have passed, he may not continue eating dairy once he realizes that he is fleishig.

Medication, especially in tablet form, may contain a dairy derivative known as lactose.  If one eats meat and needs to take a medication containing lactose, he may take it after one hour if he recites Birchas Hamazon and cleans his teeth.14

If one ate pareve food that was cooked in a fleishig  pot, one is not required to wait six hours before eating dairy. However, one may not eat this food together with dairy or reheat it in a dairy pot. For example, if one cooked spaghetti in a fleishig pot 15 he may eat cheese immediately after finishing the spaghetti. However, he may not eat the spaghetti with cheese or with other dairy products. He should also not reheat the spaghetti in a milchig pot.16 One who ate meat may eat pareve food that was cooked in a clean milchig pot after finishing the meat.17 Products that are certified Kosher and do not contain dairy, but have been heated or processed on dairy equipment (e.g. the Kashrus agency informed the consumer or the label states “DE” next to the symbol), may be eaten immediately after meat – but not together with meat.

If one cut an onion (or any “sharp” vegetable or fruit – e.g. lemon) with a meat knife, then that onion may not be eaten with dairy. However, one does not become “fleishig” after eating that onion.18 Similarly, if one has eaten meat, he is not required to wait six hours before eating an onion that was cut with a dairy knife.19

2) Children

One may not serve meat and milk together to a child of any age.20 Until the age of six, the following halachos apply.; The child should ideally wait an hour after eating meat. If this is too difficult (e.g. the child is crying for his milk bottle), the child may be served dairy after meat even before one hour has passed, if his or her hands and mouth are clean from residual meat and the milk bottle is not drunk in the same room21 the meat was eaten. Once the child turns six years old, he or she should wait six hours to eat dairy after eating meat. If this is too difficult for the child, a Rav should be consulted.

3) Dairy Followed by Meat

If one eats dairy,22 one may eat meat immediately after, provided that the following steps23 are followed: First, one should either wash his hands or confirm that there is no dairy residue on his hands. Then, eat at least a small amount of pareve food 24 and drink something. Alternatively, one can wait one half-hour (30 minutes)25 and then eat meat without going through the steps above. A bracha achrona is not required between the eating of dairy and meat.26 This means one can eat cheese, perform the steps above, and then eat meat without reciting a borai nefashos after the cheese. Only one shehakol (before the cheese) and borai nefashos (after the meat) are necessary.

After eating hard cheese, one must wait six hours before eating meat. 27 “Hard cheese” is cheese that has been aged long enough that it can not be eaten unless it is first grated.28 Generally, once it has aged for six months it becomes hard. Parmesan cheese is an example of hard cheese. Romano29 and Swiss cheese may sometimes be a hard cheese. American, Muenster, and Mozzarella are not hard cheeses,30 nor are cottage cheese and cream cheese. If a hard cheese is cooked it does not lose its status as a hard cheese. Therefore, if Parmesan cheese was baked into a food one would have to wait six hours after eating that food before eating meat.31

4) Eating Together

People who know each other should not eat at the same table if one person is eating meat and the other person is eating dairy. If they wish to eat at the same table, a “heker” should be set up between them.32 This means that something not ordinarily on the table that is noticeable (e.g. a pen)33 should be placed between them as a reminder not to share food with one another. Alternatively, separate meat and dairy tablecloths or placemats can be used as the “heker.”

This halacha only applies when two people are eating together.34 However, if a third person who is not eating and who is familiar with Jewish tradition is present, a “heker” is not required.35

If three or more people ate bread together, and two people ate meat and one person ate dairy (or vice versa), they may form a mezuman because in theory the one who ate dairy can switch from dairy to meat (by following the steps outlined above). The minhag is that the one who ate dairy should lead the mezuman, since he can also eat meat.36 If two individuals ate meat and one ate hard cheese, they may not join in Birchas Hamazon b’mezuman. This is because the individuals who ate meat cannot switch to dairy, and the one who ate dairy (hard cheese) may not eat meat; hence, they do not constitute a “group” or mezuman.37

5) Leftover Bread

If meat was served at a meal, the leftover bread that was on the table may not be eaten with dairy.38 For example, if one has leftover challah from the Shabbos table (i.e. where meat was served) one may not use the challah to make grilled cheese sandwiches. Chazal were concerned that someone at the table touched the bread with hands that had become “greasy” from the meat.39 It is thus forbidden to eat dairy with this bread that may have fleishig residue on it. However, one does not become fleishig when eating leftover bread from a meat meal. The same halacha applies to bread that was on a table where dairy was served; one may not eat that bread with meat.

6) Baking Bread

One may not bake a loaf of bread using meat or dairy ingredients; 40 bread must be baked as a pareve41 item. The reason is because bread is a major food staple. Chazal were concerned that one may inadvertently eat dairy bread with meat (and vice versa). It is permissible to bake a small amount of dairy or meat bread that will be consumed in one day,42 or a loaf of dairy or meat bread that has a different shape than typical bread. Therefore, one may bake dairy cake (pas haba’ah b’kisnin). The “different shape” serves as a reminder that the bread is not pareve.

7) Deriving Benefit from Milk and Meat

One may not derive benefit from dairy and meat mixtures that were heated together.43 Therefore, one may not feed his pet food that contains both meat and dairy, because feeding one’s pet44 is considered “deriving benefit.” Pet food labels should carefully be checked to avoid meat and milk mixtures.45 One should be extra careful when purchasing dog or cat food, as they commonly contain basar b’chalav.46

If one accidentally purchased an item that contained a mixture of meat and dairy (e.g. pet food), he may return it to the store for a refund but may not give it away (e.g. to a gentile co-worker who owns a pet) since gift giving is a form of deriving benefit.47 If one was given a gift of basar b’chalav, he must discard it and may not return it to the store for a refund.

8)  Cooking

It is not permitted to cook milk with meat.48 This is true even if no one will eat this mixture.  Furthermore, one may not cook dairy in a fleishig pot or meat in a milchig pot (even if it is being done for a non-Jew).  Culinary school students may be forbidden to prepare milk and meat dishes, or to use vessels or cutlery that are used for both milk and meat (even to cook food that is kosher and pareve).  Ideally, one should use separate vessels that are designated for meat and dairy.  One may then cook non-kosher meat49 in the meat vessel, provided he does not eat the food.

One may use the same gas top or electric coil stove or range for both milk and meat pots (at different times). If necessary, one may cook at the same time dairy on one flame and meat on a different flame. However, one should be careful that steam from one does not blow onto the other pot, and one should be careful the pots do not touch. A blech used for meat products (e.g. cholent) may not be used for dairy (e.g. on Shavuos).

The halachos of using a regular gas or electric oven for meat and dairy are as follows50

a) Covered – If one covers the meat and dairy, they may be heated in the oven at the same time. The pans should not touch. Similarly, one may heat covered dairy in a meat oven and vice versa.51

b) Uncovered at the same time – One may not bake uncovered dairy and meat products in an oven at the same time.52

c) Uncovered dairy in a clean fleishig oven – If one cooks fleishig in an oven and ensures it remains clean (i.e. the oven has no meat residue), one may bake an uncovered dry dairy product in the oven.53 This may be done as long as there is no uncovered meat product in the oven at the same time as the dry dairy product. “Dry” means the finished product has little or no liquid. The opposite is also true. Similarly, if one bakes challos or a cake in a pareve pan and in a clean54 fleishig oven, one may eat these products with dairy. However, one may not cook a liquidy dairy product (e.g. lasagna with a lot of sauce) that is uncovered in a fleishig oven.; Similarly, one may not cook meat with lots of gravy in a dairy oven.

d) Toaster ovens and grills – One may not heat any fleishig product in a dairy toaster or toaster oven55 (unless it is double wrapped in foil). One may not grill dairy (or fish) on a fleishig grill unless the food is double wrapped in foil.

e) Microwave oven – When heating56 a dairy product in a microwave oven used for fleishig, one should double wrap the dairy food in plastic. Alternatively, one may single wrap it in plastic and place it on an unused piece of cardboard or styrofoam plate.57 The same halacha applies when heating fleishig in a microwave oven used for dairy.

9) Maris Ayin

The Torah states, “V’heeyesem Niki’im58 – a Yid must be “clean” in the eyes of his neighbors, and must not perform even permissible activities that appear to be incorrect. This is known as Maris Ayin. Therefore, a person should not serve something that appears to be dairy with meat59 and vice versa. However, if a commonly used substitute for dairy is being eaten it is permissible to serve it with meat, even though it looks like a dairy item.60 There was a time when serving pareve ice cream or sticks of margarine at a fleishig banquet was questionable, because people thought the caterer was serving real ice cream or butter with meat. 

Nowadays, these pareve items are commonly used and, therefore, are permissible at a meat meal.  Similarly, soy based burgers and pareve non-meat hot dogs are readily available and may be eaten with dairy.  However, if someone produced a pareve product that looks like steak, one would not be allowed to eat it with dairy, because of maris ayin.

I once heard the following “story.”  Based on the above halacha of Maris Ayin, this story could not have possibly taken place at a catered event with a reputable kashrus agency.  Nonetheless, it is a story worth repeating:

Yankel was attending the annual banquet of the local day school, and following the main course of prime rib he was served what was allegedly pareve ice cream.  He enjoyed the ice cream so much, he went into the kitchen and asked the chef for his recipe.  Yankel said, “The ice cream was so good, it tasted real.” The chef said, “It is real!”  Quite shaken, Yankel responded, “What?!  Isn’t this a kosher event?  How can you serve real ice cream after prime rib?!”  The chef calmly responded, “Yankel, don’t worry.  The prime rib is artificial!”

1. The laws of Basar B’chalav (meat and milk) are quite complex and are one of the primary sets of halachos in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah (YD) that one learns to receive semicha (Rabbinical ordination). The purpose of this article is to cover some details that are necessary for individuals to know in the kosher kitchen. It is based on the psak of Harav Moshe Heinemann, shlita. When one inadvertently mixes milk and meat together or uses the “wrong vessel” to prepare food, a Rav should be consulted.

2. It should be noted that some Halachos may be slightly different, according to Sefardic tradition. Sefardim should consult their chachom.

3. As a convenience, many homes have a third set of cookware for pareve food.  This allows one to cook or bake pareve food and then eat it with either milk or meat.

4. It is forbidden to cook meat in a dairy vessel, or dairy in a meat vessel.  In general, one may not use dairy utensils for meat products and meat utensils for dairy products.

5. The Torah states three times, “Lo s’vashel g’di b’chalev eemo” – “Do not cook a young animal in its mother’s milk.”  From these psukim, the Gemara derives three prohibitions – one may not eat milk and meat together, one may not cook them together, and one may not derive benefit from such cooked mixtures.  If they were mixed without heat (e.g. a sandwich containing slices of cold salami and cheese) the mixture is Rabbinically prohibited to eat.  See Shulchan Aruch YD87:1.

6. Chazal were concerned with a lingering taste (moshaich ta’am) of meat and/or residual meat caught between the teeth (basor bain hashenayim).

7. The Gemara Chulin (105a) states that Mar Ukva waited until the “next meal” before eating dairy.  The overwhelming majority of Rishonim are of the opinion that this means one must wait six hours.  The halacha, as stated in Shulchan Aruch YD 89:1, is that one must wait a full six hours (Chamudei Doniel as brought in Darchai Teshuva 89:6).  It should be noted that some Rishonim hold one hour or three hours.  Although the prevalent custom is to wait six hours, many individuals of German descent wait only three hours. [Original Dutch Jews wait only one hour.]If a woman of German descent, who is accustomed to waiting three hours, marries a man who waits six hours, she must then wait six hours.  Similarly, if a woman who waits six hours marries a man of German descent who waits three hours, she may then wait only three hours.

8. Eating poultry (or meat from a “chaya” – e.g. deer meat) and milk that were mixed or cooked together is only Rabbinically prohibited – see Shulchan Aruch YD 87:3.

9. Fleishig means meat.  One is fleishig if he has eaten meat  and is within the six hour waiting period before he may eat dairy.  A fleishig pot is a vessel that is used to cook meat.  Milchig means dairy.  A milchig pot is a vessel that is used to cook dairy.

10. One must also wait six hours if he ate french fries that were fried in oil previously used to fry chicken.  Therefore, if one eats french fries (or other deep fried items) prepared in a fleishig restaurant,  he should assume that he is fleishig unless the certifying agency of the restaurant indicates otherwise.  Similarly, if one is fleishig one may not eat french fries that were fried in oil that was previously used to fry dairy products.  When in doubt, consult with the restaurant’s certifying agency.

11. Sefer Shaarei Zmanim Siman 21 and Mesorah Volume VI pg. 92. 

12. This applies in a case where there was no pareve food in front of him that required the same bracha  (see Mishna Brura 206:26 and Biur Halacha 206:6 “Rak shelo”).

13. Ba’er Moshe 4:24, see also Sdei Chemed Vol. 5 p. 290.

14. Chachmas Adam 40:13.  If one is not ill and needs to swallow a dairy tablet (e.g. a sleeping pill), the same halacha applies (i.e. wait one hour, etc.).

15 This is true if meat was cooked in the vessel within the past 24 hours (it is a ben yomo).  However, if meat was not cooked in the vessel within 24 hours (it is an aino ben yomo), pareve food that was cooked in the vessel may l’chatchila be mixed and eaten with dairy (Darchai Teshuva YD 94:26).  One may not l’chatchila cook pareve in an aino ben yomo (or ben yomo) meat vessel, if he knows he will be mixing it with dairy.

16. If he inadvertently cooked the spaghetti (or meat) in a dairy pot, a Rav should be consulted.

17. Harav Aharon Kotler zt”l told this to Harav Heinemann shlita.

18. Rabbi Akiva Eiger glosses on Shach YD  89:19.  If the onion that was cut with a meat knife was mixed or cooked with dairy, the food becomes non-kosher (since the taste of the meat in the onion mixes with the taste of dairy to create a mixture of basar b’chalav). Similarly, if one first cut an onion with a meat knife and then cut the onion with a dairy knife or ran it through a dairy food processor, the onion and equipment become non-kosher. If one cut an onion with a meat knife on a dairy cutting board, the onion and equipment also become non-kosher. If one cuts the onion with a meat knife, one should not then cut the onion with a pareve knife (or process it in a pareve blender), as according to the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 451:31) the knife would become fleishig. B’dieved, if the fleishig knife that cut the onion was an aino ben yomo – see Even Ha’ozer YD 96:3.

19. Although the Pri Megadim in the Aishel Avraham – Orach Chaim 494:6 seems to be strict, l’halacha one who is fleishig need not wait six hours to eat an onion cut with a dairy knife, as this case is similar to the previous example, where the onion was cut with a fleishig knife and Rabbi Akiva Eiger says that one does not become fleishig. See Darchei Teshuva 89:42.

20. It is strictly forbidden to feed any Yid non-kosher food or milk and meat mixtures. This includes infants and elderly Yidden in nursing homes. If one only has to place the non-kosher food in front of the Yid who will then consume it on his own, a Rav should be consulted.

21. A different room is considered a “shinui makom” and “different meal” for one who is too young to recite Birchas Hamazon (see Tosfos Chulin 105a “L’seudasa”).

22. These halachos do not apply to a case where one ate hard cheese.  This will be addressed later.

23. The purpose of these steps is to clean his hands and palate from any residual dairy.  These steps are only necessary when eating meat (including meat from a chaya) after dairy.  See Shulchan Aruch YD 89:2 that they are not necessary when eating poultry after dairy.

24. The food should be chewed and swallowed. Food that does not clean the palate (e.g. dates, or food that has the consistency of flour) should not be used – see Shulchan Aruch YD 89:2.

25. If one chooses not to follow the steps above, waiting this amount of time (30 minutes) after dairy is the minhag haolam. This does not necessarily contradict the Zohar that says “sha’a chada,” as this is interpreted to mean not eating milk and meat at one time.

26. This is the psak of the Mishna Brura (494:16).

27. Rama YD 89:2.

28. Harav Heinemann heard this from Harav Aharon Kotler zt”l.

29.This type of cheese is not readily available as kosher.

30. They are not considered hard cheese with regard to the halachos of waiting six hours. However, with regard to the halachos of gevinas akum, they are considered hard cheese.

31. This is because the reason of “moshaich ta’am” (lingering taste) still applies.

32. Shulchan Aruch YD 88:1. This halacha applies when they are eating. However, generally one may place separate meat and dairy containers on the same refrigerator shelf or counter provided that one is careful that the meat and dairy do not mix.

33. Anything not normally on the table and noticeable (this is what is meant when the Taz YD 88:4 says “gvoa’a ktzas”) can serve as a heker.

34. A heker is required on an airplane, if one person is eating fleishig on his tray and his friend sitting next to him is eating dairy on his tray (since they are eating the normal way people eat on an airplane). See Yad Avraham YD 88:2 “B’hagaa.”

35.See Pischai Teshuva YD 88:4.

36. Mishna Brura 196:9.

37. Mishna Brura ibid. The Mishna Brura also addresses a case where they ate a k’zayis of bread before the cheese and/or meat.

38. Shulchan Aruch YD 89:4.

39. If the bread was in a plastic bag on the table and was obviously not touched (e.g. the bread is neatly placed in the bag – the way it looks when one purchases it from a bakery), these restrictions do not apply (except to the piece closest to the opening of the bag, as it may have been touched).

40.Shulchan Aruch YD 97:1.

41. This applies only at the time of baking. One may spread butter on bread after it was baked. As to whether this halacha applies to other foods that may be eaten with milk or meat (e.g. spices or wine), see Pischai Teshuva 97:1 and Chovos Da’as 97:1.

42. See Pri Megadim in Sifsai Da’as 97:1 and Chochmas Adam 50:3, who say “daver mu’et” means in one day.

43. There is no prohibition to derive benefit from poultry (or meat from a chaya) and milk that were cooked together. Similarly, there is no prohibition to derive benefit from a non-kosher species (e.g. pork or horse meat) mixed with milk. However, our custom is to prohibit deriving benefit from non-kosher “nevaila” meat (i.e. beef that came from an animal that was not properly slaughtered) that was mixed with milk. For a discussion of these halachos, see Shulchan Aruch YD 87:3 and Pischai Teshuva 87:6

44. Feeding one’s own pet is considered deriving benefit. There is a dispute whether one may feed basar b’chalav mixtures to a stray animal – see Shaar Hatzion 448:75. Ideally, one should be strict.

45. For example, if the label states beef or meat AND milk, casein or whey, one may not feed it to his pet. Although the following may not be consumed by a Jew, one may feed them to his pet: chicken and milk, pork and milk, and horsemeat and milk (even if they were heated), and milk and meat that were not cooked together.

46. For a full discussion of this topic, see Spring 5765 Kashrus Kurrents (vol.25 no.4) Feeding Your Pet, Barking up the Right Tree by Rabbi Zvi Goldberg. It should be noted that similar halachos apply to chometz on Pesach.

47. If one’s non-Jewish co-worker says, “Since you are going to the refrigerator to get your lunch, can you please bring me my cheeseburger?” one is permitted to bring it. This is not considered deriving benefit from milk and meat. Furthermore, if one is a purchasing agent for a company owned by a gentile and must purchase basar b’chalav among other purchases for the company, one may do so if necessary. However, if one owns a store or any eating establishment (e.g. restaurant or nursing home), it is assur m’deoraysa to sell or serve a basar b’chalav mixture. It should be noted that it is generally prohibited m’drabonon to sell on a regular basis (even to gentile customers) any food that the Torah prohibits a Yid to eat. When this question arises, one should consult his Rav.

48. Shulchan Aruch YD 87:1. Cooking with a gas flame or any other fire, or via electricity (e.g. an electric stove) is Biblically prohibited. One should not fry, bake, roast, broil, barbecue or microwave milk and meat together, as many poskim say it is the same as cooking (see Pischai Teshuva 87:3). If basar b’chalav were fully cooked or baked together by a gentile, a Yid may reheat this non-kosher mixture (see Gilyon Maharsha 87:1, the pot would become non-kosher). There is no prohibition to cook poultry (or meat from a chaya) and milk together (the food may not be eaten, but one may derive benefit from it). Similarly, there is no prohibition to cook meat from a non-kosher species mixed with milk. However, our custom is to prohibit cooking non-kosher nevaila meat and milk. For a discussion of these halachos see Shulchan Aruch YD 87:3. With regard to “chatzi shiur” of milk and meat, see Pri Megadim Psicha L’Hilchos Basar B’chalav “Hana’a.”

49. As previously indicated, generally one may not own a non-kosher food business or work directly with non-kosher food. Therefore, under normal circumstances one may not work on a regular basis in a non-kosher restaurant, even if he avoids preparing milk and meat mixtures together.

50. For a further discussion, see Kashrus Kurrents Summer 5760 (vol. 20 no. 3) Oven Kashrus for Everyday Use, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann shlit”a.

51. When heating in a treif oven, the food should be double wrapped.

52. If this occurred, a Rav should be consulted. One may not bake uncovered meat in a dairy oven that has noticeable dairy residue, and one may not bake uncovered dairy in an oven with noticeable meat residue.

53. It is not necessary to wait 24 hours.

54.If meat residue becomes charred, the oven is considered clean.

55. Toaster ovens are very difficult to clean properly. Therefore, one must assume they contain dairy residue.

56. Above yad soledes (according to the opinion of Harav Aharon Kotler zt”l – this is 120oF).

57. If the walls of the microwave oven never reach yad soledes, and the oven is clean, one only needs to place down a plate below the food; one does not have to cover the product.

58. Bamidbar 32:22.

59. Rama YD 87:3.

60. Kraisi U’plaisey 87:8.