Cholov Stam: An Update from the Farm (and Lab)

In a recent issue of Daf HaKashrus, we presented information about the contemporary controls and regulations that pertain to government inspection of milk, demonstrating (with the concurrence of Rav Belsky, shlita) that the Igros Moshe’s heter for cholov stam is alive and even stronger than before.1

In brief, we noted that current protocol includes government inspection of farms (which was not always the case in prior days – see Igros Moshe YD 1:49), which precludes milk from non-kosher species from entering the commercial milk chain. We described how milk used in commercial dairy plants can only be provided by government-approved source farms, and how government inspectors track documentation for all milk shipped to commercial dairies to assure that it indeed originates from exclusively government-inspected farms.

After discussion with a high-ranking senior dairy farm inspector in upstate New York, as well as with administrative officials at departments of agriculture of several states, the following additional points of information were determined to be worthy of publication for the readership:

  • Goat and sheep milk farms must be licensed specifically for these types of milk. Otherwise, all milk licensing applies only to cow milk.
  • Farms which have animals other than cows (most notably Amish farms) must either keep the other animals in different quarters from the cows, or – if this is not feasible – a partition must be erected to physically prevent the other animals from contacting the cows.
  • Animals other than cows (or goats and sheep, as per the farm’s license) are never permitted in farms’ milking parlors or in milking areas of barns. The presence of such animals in these milking areas would be a red flag violation.
  • Dairy farms are strictly prohibited from adding milk from any other species to cow milk.
  • Milk from all dairy farms that provide the commercial market must be sent to laboratories for analysis. Unlike the laboratory analysis conducted on milk samples taken from dairy processing plants, the analysis of dairy farm milk tests for protein, fat and cell levels, all of which indicate whether the milk is from cows or other species. Even one pail of milk from other species intermingled in a silo sample of cow milk would show up in the results and indicate that the milk is not pure cow milk.
  • The state routinely reviews the laboratory analyses of milk from all dairy farms which supply the commercial milk chain.


1 This new information does not in any way negate the validity of the p’sakim which do not accept cholov stam, such as Chelkas Yaakov 2:37-38, and the apparent objection to any notion of cholov stam in the Aruch Hashulchan in YD 115:5

OU Kosher Staff