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What is Kosher?

Food is considered to be kosher if it is prepared in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. Some of these laws include: Animals must have cloven hooves and chew their cud. Cows, goats and sheep are kosher; horses and pigs are not; Fish must have scales and fins; Food must be butchered and prepared in accordance with Jewish law; All blood must be drained from the meat or broiled out of it; Utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food.

While you may already be familiar with the aforementioned requirements, you may be surprised at the extent of kosher regulations.

For example, shouldn’t cereals and potato chips be inherently kosher since they are not made from meat, fowl, fish or insects? The answer is that all units and subunits in a food item 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 pasteurized 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).

Can anybody produce a product and label it “kosher?” Yes, and the “K” symbol, indicating “kosher,” appears on numerous products. Anyone—a home-cook, for example—can claim the product has been made in a kosher kitchen from kosher ingredients, adhering to all rules. But this symbol carries little weight with observant Jews. That’s because there has been no supervision by a kosher-certifying agency.

In interpreting ancient dietary laws and adapting them to modern times, ingredients and processes, different rabbis have different opinions about what is kosher, or what is a kosher environment.

There are close to 400 kosher certifiers worldwide.

  • The OU currently certifies over 500,000 products worldwide, manufactured in 7,000 plants in 83 countries. The OU has 55 Rabbinic Coordinators who serve as account executives in the OU New York headquarters with an additional 400 Rabbinical Field Representatives around the world authorizing kashrut certifications.
  • Respected across the food industry, OK Kosher certifies approximately 3000 production facilities. With regional offices across six continents and representatives in 115 countries, OK Kosher certifies hundreds of thousands of products around the world. In most cases, audits are performed in the local language.
Kosher equals Healthy:

55% of America's kosher food consumers buy kosher products because they believe kosher food is healthier.

Kosher foods are perceived to be a better quality, often using all natural ingredients, and are frequently organic.

With an overall increased awareness of food safety and preparation procedures, many health-conscious people prefer kosher products.

The Kosher Market:

The $24 billion kosher food market is projected to grow by 11.5% by 2025 (Source: Kosher Network International)

  • 12.35M KOSHER CONSUMERS IN THE US
  • 1.3M YEAR ROUND JEWISH CONSUMERS OF KOSHER PRODUCTS
  • 35M NON-JEWISH CONSUMERS OF KOSHER PRODUCTS
  • 195K KOSHER CERTIFIED PRODUCTS
  • 19K KOSHER PRODUCTS IN US SUPERMARKETS
  • 230K KOSHER CERTIFIED PRODUCTS IN 2015
  • 11.4K KOSHER PRODUCING COMPANIES AND PLANTS

(source: http://www.lubicom.com/stats)

Outside of Israel New York has the largest population of kosher consumers and more than 135,000 products are available on the market shelves. (Source: agriculture.ny.gov)

The kosher food market is enjoying an annual growth of approximately 15%. In comparison, non-kosher food sales in American supermarkets are growing at approximately 4 percent a year.

Kosher is not just “ethnic” food. Beyond gefilte fish and matzo ball mix, meats and poultry, kosher products exist in every segment of the food industry from to processed foods and drinks to cereal and condiments.

The annual New York kosher food exposition, Kosherfest, attracts an estimated 10,000 visitors and 500 exhibitors representing companies from 29 countries and 40 U.S. states.


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