While the principles outlined in the Torah for Kashrut may, on the surface,
seem simple enough, their application in the modern world can be quite complex.
A simple example will serve to illustrate. Most everyone knows that the
Torah forbids Jews from eating pork (specifically, animals that do not both
have cloven hoof and chew the cud). Consuming any part of a pig is forbidden.
The food additive and supplement pancreatin is made from a substance created
in the stomachs of pigs. Just looking at the word pancreatin, though, there
is no way the average consumer would know it is not kasher. There are countless
examples of food additives such as pancreatin that are quite commonly used
in the food processing industry, and found on ingredient labels. Orah Saddiqims
food additive guide is one of the most complete guides available on the
internet today for non-kasher food additives. It may be accessed at: Food
Knowing what food additives are kasher, and what food additives are not
kasher, despite how daunting that might seem, is not simple enough. Many
food additives are processed using non-kasher food additives; and there
are no governmental requirements to list these items on an ingredients list.
Again, an example will serve to illustrate. Common table sugar, sucrose,
is usually made from either beets or the cane plant. The process of refining
sugar involves the use of several non-kasher substances, among them animal
blood, and charred animal bones. Despite this, whenever sugar is listed
on an ingredients label, you will not see that it was processed using these
Furthermore, certain ingredients may be considered "ingredients produced
by a standard practice." This term means that a given compound may be produced
using several different ingredients, but, because the compound is produced
in a standard way accross the food industry, its ingredients do not need
to be listed. Dried honey is a good example of this. Dried honey is actually
mostly comprised of cane sugar, not honey. However, because all dried honey
is produced in the same way across the food industry, food packagers do
not have to put "dried honey, sugar" on their labels; all they have to put
is "dried honey." As was noted previously, most sugars are non-kasher. Consequently,
dried honey is most likely non-kasher as well; however, one could never
tell this from the label.
Finally, to complicate things even further, there is the issue of food waxes.
Food waxes, such as lac (which is the product of the lac beetle) and animal
fats (mostly non-kasher byproducts of the meat packaging industry) are frequently
sprayed on smooth skinned produce, such as apples, oranges and pears. Any
fruit coated with a food wax becomes non-kasher. Therefore, only produce that has not been coated with food waxes is kasher.
At this point, the task of keeping kasher may seem almost impossible. There
are, however, resources to help. Any questions you may have about kashrut
may be directed to the Question Center here at Orah Saddiqim. Furthermore,
our Kashrut database - accessible from the Learning Center - is a growing
resource of information on kasher foods, non-kasher food additives, and
issues in kashrut.