Avoiding Hidden Meat Products

four kosher symbols

After all my recent criticisms of kosher meat, I want to share something helpful about the laws of kashrut, courtesy of my dear cousin Amy, who keeps a kosher home. (This has nothing to do with animal slaughter, I promise.)

The laws of kashrut require that milk and meat be kept strictly separate—separate dishes, silverware, tablecloths, pots and pans; even separate ovens, stovetops, sinks, and counters. Jews who keep strictly kosher wait a minimum of three hours after eating meat before ingesting any dairy. Orthodox Jewish rabbis look into every aspect of packaged products to determine whether they contain milk or meat byproducts.

You’ll find plenty of hidden meat products in food that you think is free of them. For example, gelatin is made from the boiled skin, bones, and hooves of slaughtered animals. You’ll also find animal products in Jello, marshmallows, grocery-store guacamoles and sour creams, many brands of yogurt, as well as many chewy candies like Skittles, gummy bears, and some gums (like Trident Splash). Lard is pig fat and is used to flavor products like vegetable soups, seasoned rice and stuffing mixes—even Salsa Verde Doritos. Rendered beef fat (suet or tallow) is sometimes used in pastries, bread/muffin/biscuit mixes, and… Hostess snack cakes.

Kosher products come in three varieties: milk, meat, and pareve. Pareve contains neither milk nor meat, and therefore may be used in all dishes.

So here’s the trick. If you’re a strict vegetarian or are looking to consume only meat that has been well-raised and slaughtered, the word “PAREVE” on the label assures you of no animal-related surprises. Pretty handy, no?

2 thoughts on “Avoiding Hidden Meat Products

  1. To clarify:You can assume that the product is Pareve (containing no milk or meat at all) if one of the Kosher symbols you posted are on it. Something that is obviously meat (for example, a hot dog) or something that is clearly milk (like yogurt) may not have the words “Meat” or “Milk” after the symbol. (Because it is obvious). Something that is usually meat, but now has no meat product in it (for example, tofu ground meat) will say Pareve. Likewise, something that is usually milk, but now has no dairy ingredients in it (for example, ice cream made with soy), will say Pareve.

    The following products will contain absolutely no meat ingredients whatsoever (all must have one of the Kosher symbols you listed on the package):

    Anything that is obviously dairy, says “dairy” on the label, or says “Pareve” on the label. Anything that has any of the Kosher symbols you listed, unless obviously meat (like the hot dog), will likewise contain no meat ingredients whatsoever, even without Pareve or Dairy written on it.

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