Kosher-Sensitive Ingredients In The Dairy Industry

The following is a list of thirteen Kosher-sensitive ingredients which are particularly relevant to the dairy Industry:

  1. Bacteria Cultures: Used in making sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurts. Concerns: culture media, which can include glucose, milk, molasses, corn, peptones, pancreas extract, even blood. Glucose in this country is generally derived from corn or molasses. However, in Europe it is often derived from wheat (which is a problem for Passover).
  2. Enzymes: Used in microbial rennet for clotting milk, in the cheese making process. A very small amount of rennet is often used in cottage cheese or even sour cream. Lipase enzyme (found in oral gastric tissue) is used to strengthen and enhance taste in some cheeses. Enzymes are used in enzyme modified cheese in order to deliver a very powerful taste. The concerns involve fermentation media, and are the same as with bacteria cultures (item #1, above).
  3. Gelatin: Used for blending and smoothing yogurt and sometimes even sour cream. Most gelatins are not acceptable. Some acceptable bovine gelatin is manufactured using kosher slaughtered animals, certified OU. There is also kosher certified fish gelatin.
  4. Cheese: Rennet-set cheese (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella, Edam) can only be kosher if the kosher supervisor participates in coagulating the milk. This is generally accomplished by him actually adding the kosher (microbial) rennet and starter cultures to the milk. For brined products, a kosher brine must be maintained in a dedicated new, or kosherized, brine tank under the direct control of the rabbinic supervisor. For acid-set cheese (e.g., cottage cheese, farmer cheese, ricotta) many authorities do not apply this rule, and general oversight of ingredients and equipment usage, sometimes kosherizing, is sufficient.
  5. Whey: Salt whey, from the manufacture of acid-set cheese, can easily be certified kosher. Sweet whey, from rennet-set cheese, can be kosher even where the cheese is not kosher due to no participation of a rabbinic supervisor. However, there are four requirements:
    A) All the ingredients must be kosher.
    B) The cook temperature must be under 120°F. This would eliminate most Swiss whey.
    C) There must be no “cooker water” problems (see below items #6, and 7).
    D) All equipments must be kosher or kosherized. This applies to hot equipment (120°F), such as pasteurizer, cooker, separator; and brine tanks, even cold.
  6. Cooker Water: Some types of cheese are often cooked in a cooker/stretcher/molder after whey separation. While the separated whey is kosher, the water, having been cooked with the non-kosher cheese (at temperatures above 120°F), is not kosher. Often this water is put through a separator (rendering the separator non-kosher). The resulting cream is likewise not kosher (see #7, below). The rest of the liquid is also not kosher, and is often returned to the whey stream, effectively rendering the entire whey product non-kosher. In kosher whey production where a cooker is used, a verifiable hard-piped disposal system for this liquid must be utilized.
  7. Cooker Cream: The cream recovered from the cooker (see #6, above) is often called whey cream and added to the sweet cream stock in the plant. Since this cream is not kosher, it can render the entire cream inventory non-kosher.
  8. Sweet Cream: Cream simply separated from whole milk is inherently kosher. However, in plants where cheese is made (non-kosher), any whey cream may be added to the cream stock, and as a result the entire cream production can be rendered non-kosher. A similar problem will exist if the facility purchases cream, which may contain non-kosher whey cream or cooker cream.
  9. Whey Cream: Can be kosher if conditions outlined in item #5 are met, or cheese is manufactured kosher (see #4, above). However, whey cream is often mixed with non-kosher cooker cream, which many in the industry often call whey cream.
  10. Caseins: This is the precipitated casein molecules from the cheese making process. Acid casein and lactic casein (almost identical with farmer cheese) results from the acidification of milk and has the same rules as acid-set cheese. Rennet casein is produced by enzymatic precipitation from milk, and has the same rules as rennet-set cheese (see #4, above).
  11. Caseinates: Casein is not soluble. However acid casein may be chemically neutralized resulting in soluble casein salts, such as sodium caseinate and calcium caseinate. Concerns are chiefly the same as with acid-set cheese. In addition, the drying equipment must be looked at because it may be used for drying rennet casein or other non-kosher products. All caseinates are considered dairy according to kosher law, in spite of federal regulations that require them to be marked “non-dairy”.
  12. WPC: Whey Protein Concentrate: Same concerns as whey (item #5, above).
  13. Lactose: Removed from the whey permeate by ultrafiltration, lactose has the same concerns as whey.
OU Kosher Staff