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Kosher dietary restrictions date back to the Torah for many of the Jewish faith. While the details of keeping a kosher home are extensive, the laws all derive from a few fairly straightforward rules:

  1. Certain animals may not be eaten at all.
  2. Of the animals that may be eaten, they must be killed in accordance with Jewish law.
  3. All blood must be drained from meat and poultry.
  4. Certain parts of permitted animals may not be eaten.
  5. Fruits and vegetables are permitted, but must be inspected for bugs (which cannot be eaten).
  6. Meat cannot be eaten with dairy.
  7. Shellfish and scavenger fish may not be eaten.
  8. Utensils that have come in contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Utensils that have come in contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food.
  9. Grape products made by non-Jews may not be eaten.

As you can see, many of the dietary have some beneficial health and safety effects.

While reading the Lansing State Journal over the Memorial Day weekend, I stumbled upon an article about one of my wife’s first cousins, Rabbi Pinchas Herman. As an Orthodox rabbi, one of his duties involves examining the ingredients used to make the food, examining the process by which the food is prepared, and periodically inspecting the processing facilities to make sure that the equipment is clean enough to be certified, and labeled accordingly. This is essentially “private sector” food regulation for consumers who want to show obedience to G-d and some who worry about safety.

Keeping kosher for Passover takes keeping kosher to another level. No leavened food (like bread that rises) may be eaten and a complete separate set of dishes and utensils are used after an even more thorough cleaning of the house. According to the 2000 National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS), 21% of American Jews keep kosher in their home. U.S. sales of kosher prepared food, meat, fish and dairy is projected to exceed $15 billion as more products become certified. While only 1 in 8 Americans bought kosher products, 62% who did reported that the main appeal was food quality.

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