Quick Question Monday : What is Kosher Certification on Food Labels?

Most of us will likely not notice when we cut open a package of hot dogs, pour that box of Cheerios in our children’s bowls for breakfast, or twist open that jar of Nutella – but these products have specific symbols displayed at the front of the package that have significant meaning to the Jewish community. But do you know that these symbols can also benefit other communities?

Below are common terms and symbols that you can find on almost 40% of food items within a grocery store:

  • Ⓚ - Food items fit for consumption that fall in-line with the regulations of the kashrut according to halakhah (Jewish religious law)
  • Pareve - Neutral, prepared without any meat, milk, or by-products of the two, allowing consumption of the product with either meat or dairy dishes
  • D - Product was made with dairy machinery or an indication that dairy products are included
  • Ⓤ or U - Another means of symbolizing that food is kosher and fit to eat according to Jewish law, but serves as a symbol for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America


What is Kosher?

Kosher certification consists of food preparation that abides by Jewish law requirements.

In order for any food label to bear the kosher certification, the process under which the food is prepared must follow specific regulations. Meat and dairy must be processed under separate, isolated conditions and the same machinery that is used to package meat must not come in contact with anything that is dairy or a dairy derivative. The same must be followed for tooling that comes in contact with dairy products; meat is not to come in contact with the same machinery and platforms. The term mixing is used to describe crossing meat with dairy and is prohibited under Jewish law.

Kosher labeling benefits for non-observing consumers

There are many reasons why individuals make the choice to go kosher: religious observance, quality of food handling, animal advocacy, and veganism are some reasons. Interestingly, 80% of kosher consumers are not kosher observers; the majority of this consumer group consists of health conscious consumers concerned with the quality of food that contributes to their overall health.

Consumers who are lactose intolerant or those who seek to limit their dairy and dairy by-product intake as part of their diet can benefit from food labels that have the “Pareve” designation, and avoid items that are labeled “D”, indicating the presence of dairy, on the package.

Business Insider has created a video that touches on this very topic, they specifically pointed out that nearly half of the food available from our local supermarket already have these symbols displayed.

If you have any specific questions surrounding kosher symbols or kosher in general, feel free to leave them below.

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