What is Kosher?

The word kosher means proper or acceptable, and it has informally entered the English language with that meaning. But kosher laws have their origin in the Bible, and are detailed in the Talmud and the other codes of Jewish traditions. They have been applied through the centuries to ever-changing situations, and these rulings, both ancient and modern, govern OU kosher certification.

You may already be familiar with some of the more well-known requirements for kosher, but you may be surprised at the extent of the regulations with which you are not familiar.

What Foods are Not Kosher?

The Bible lists the basic categories of food items which are not kosher. These include certain animals, fowl and fish (such as pork and rabbit, eagle and owl, catfish and sturgeon), most insects, and any shellfish or reptile. In addition, kosher species of meat and fowl must be slaughtered in a prescribed manner, and meat and dairy products may not be manufactured or consumed together.

Why Kosher Supervision?

Why do so many foods require kosher supervision? What makes food non kosher? Are all products made from Kosher Ingredients Kosher? For example, since cereals and potato chips are not made from meat, fowl, fish or insects aren’t they inherently kosher?

The answer is that for a food to be kosher all units and subunits must be kosher as well. Thus, for example, a cereal may be non-kosher because it has raisins which are coated with a non-kosher, animal-based glycerin. Potato chips can be non-kosher if the vegetable oil used in the fryer has been refined and deodorized on equipment used for tallow production. In fact, equipment used for hot production of non-kosher products may not be used for kosher production without kosherization (a hot purging procedure).

What Does Kosher Certified Mean?

Kosher Certification is the stamp of kosher approval by a rabbinic Agency verifiying they have checked the products ingredients, production facility and actual production to ensure all ingredients, derivatives, tools and machinery have no trace of non kosher substances. The Kosher Certified symbol assures consumers that both the actual product and its production adhere to all Kosher Law requirements.

Getting OU Kosher certification begins with the Kosher Certification Application.

Rabbinic Coordinator (Account Executive)

A Rabbinic coordinator (account executive) will be assigned to handle your application. This RC will be your designated point person at the OU, and will be available to answer your questions, address your needs and guide you through the certification process.

Interested in learning more about Kosher? Find out exactly what does kosher mean in our Kosher Primer section.
kosher food