Fair is Fowl and Fowl is Fair: STAR-K Kosher Certification’s Halacha Webinar Teaches How Not to Judge a Chicken by Its Cover

It’s a busy Friday afternoon, with just a couple of hours left until Shabbos. Not the best time, perhaps, for your husband to be unsure about the kashrus status of the chicken you are about to cook! You try contacting your Rav, but to your great dismay, he is unavailable.

Good news! No longer will you have to wing it, thanks to STAR-K Kosher Certification’s upcoming Halacha Webinar, on Wednesday, November 14, 2012, at 8 pm, ET. During this interactive presentation, which utilizes pictures, audio, chat and videos, STAR-K’s Rabbinic Administrator, Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlit”a, will take the guesswork out by showing you how to recognize a shayla.

The purpose of this Webinar is solely to educate the consumer; it is not meant to give an instant crash course on hilchos treifos of chickens. It will help you understand how to recognize the difference between a perfectly normal imperfection, that is a result of processing, and an imperfection that presents a true shayla that needs to be addressed by your Rav.

Even with the best of intentions and the most intensive kosher supervision, problems regarding chickens can arise on occasion and shaylos need to be addressed to a Rav, on a case by case basis. How is this possible?

Tens of thousands of chickens processed each day are inspected by mashgichim to ensure that all their required organs are present and that chicken pox is not present on the intestines. Even prior to evisceration, the internal organs are checked and the mashgiach ensures that the chickens have been shechted, soaled, salted, and washed properly. In addition, at different checkpoints, while the chicken’s organs are being eviscerated, the mashgichim inspect for broken bones, holes, punctures and bruises that would render the chicken treif. Any chickens deemed questionable are taken off the line and placed on hooks, over to the side. The on-site Rav paskens (rules) as to whether these chickens are kosher or treif. Nonetheless, due to human error, it is possible that a chicken that is not kosher gets through the process.

Although it may not be evident, there is a marked difference between a whole chicken and a whole cut-up chicken processed in the plant, with regard to kashrus shaylos. If there is a problem with a wing of a whole chicken, for example, the complete chicken is treif. Regarding cut up chickens, when processing thousands of chickens, there is a very remote chance that any suspect parts come from the same chicken. Therefore, you do not have to assume the entire tray of chicken parts will be invalidated, and only the suspect pieces should be thrown away. With regard to chicken purchased from a local butcher shop, one should inquire as to whether the cut-up is all part of the same chicken or from various pieces that make up the tray.

It is also important to know if a break in one of the chicken’s bones happened before or after the chicken was shechted; breaks that occur post-shechting are not a problem. During the webinar, HaRav Heinemann will help the kosher consumer discern when this break happened, in determining whether asking a question to a Rav is, indeed, warranted.

The STAR-K webinar is open to one and all, and will be accessible via smartphones, as well. Login details will be posted at here , or you can register by emailing here . For more information, contact Rabbi Zvi Goldberg, 410-484-4110 ext. 219.