Modern Commentary

Torah & Spirit
Family Life







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 Saddiqim’s 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 Additives

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 items.

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.