DISCLAIMER: Sources cited here are not an open endorsement of all views of these sources. Some websites mentioned are biased on both sides of the debate. Sources are cited and used for educational purposes under Fair Use.
I’ve noticed recently (I guess I’m a bit slow on the uptake) that almost all foods in grocery stores in the United States have some strange markings on them. In this day, when phones are smarter than we are, I’m able to look up these bizarre tattoos for immediate answers while standing in the grocery store scratching my little head. The vast majority of them are kosher certification, oddly enough. Halal is making an appearance as well, but it’s not yet common.
Before anyone accuses me of being “anti-semitic” or “islamophobic”, ask yourself this: is it not “anti-goyim” or “kuffarophobic” to certify almost all food consumed by goyim/kuffar (derogatory terms to separate and elevate believers from non-believers) to religions that denigrate them at their expense? For the record, I don’t hate any one group of people (other than assholes), but I do hate stupid ideas used to hurt people, and religion of any brand or packaging is a stupid idea used in large part to hurt people. Demanding that non-believers pay extra for food that supports the beliefs of tiny minorities is unreasonable and bigoted. Are these certifications really more than an ego trip? “Oh, just look at this new halal eyeliner I just got!”
With that established, let’s move on.
Since Judaism was schemed up first, let’s start with kosher. Why is almost all of the food in the US food supply kosher, when the population of the US is only about 1.73% Jewish?
According to some of the kosher certifying organizations, “kosher” is falsely equated with quality. Bold claims are made about the “quality” of the products and how they will sell faster, but no details are given as to how kosher-certified products are any better than non-kosher products, which in the United States have to follow the same FDA regulations.
What is kosher?
Why kosher? Hold onto your socks kids, this is profound stuff here:
Well that explains it perfectly. It seems there is no damn good reason at all to bother with dietary regulations based on what may please or displease a sky fairy. Health isn’t even a factor, never mind the lack of scientific explanation. Oops! Did I expect science from an archaic book of violence and ignorance? And of course nothing establishes higher credibility than saying “because God -- excuse me, because G-d -- says so”.
Back to the topic at hand. According to kosher/Jewish lore, foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy, and pareve (neutral). Meat is any animal with a cloven hoof that chews its cud (that rules out rabbits, which according to the Torah, chew cud -- isn’t God supposed to know these things?), plus chickens, geese, and ducks. Some people include turkey, though it was not known in ancient times. Dairy products must come from kosher animals. What the qualifications are for dairy animals to be considered kosher is a mystery, since it should be a given that sick animals should be ruled out for production. Pareve foods are fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, and fish (“fish” must have both fins and scales). Meat and dairy may not be mixed; however pareve foods may be eaten with meat or dairy. It seems that the reason that mixing meat and dairy isn't allowed is some obscure verses in the Torah. If anyone knows if this is literal or metaphorical, please let me know. As of now it looks like no good reason at all.
The processing of all products must follow all kosher steps and usage specifications. Equipment used for meat must not be used for dairy or pareve; equipment used for dairy may not be used for meat or pareve; and if equipment used for meat or dairy is used for pareve, the pareve products adopt the specification of the equipment used. I do find it amusing that somehow cream cheese gets a break because it didn’t exist at the time.
I do have to giggle about how this rules out normal dishwasher usage. I can only imagine the amount of dishes and cabinet space a large family would need.
There is a process of cleansing the equipment by rabbis (“kashering”) to use for other purposes but no description is given as to how that is accomplished. I would assume that additional fees are paid to accomplish said excruciating task. Is a good old-fashioned cleaning with soap, water, and disinfectants like the FDA requires not good enough? I would hope that manufacturers realize that “cross-contamination” (as it is called in the secular world) would ruin the quality of the product, such as a meat grease problem in the chocolate pudding, or a more likely scenario would be to clean surfaces before changing the spice mix of a particular product. Could a contaminated product be sold? No, as it would not taste good to consumers. Common sense. Clean the equipment first! But this is kosher, so remember to call in the rabbi!
Animals must be slaughtered and prepared in the kosher fashion. Stunning is not allowed, and a sharp knife is used to slash the throat, so the animal slowly bleeds out. The argument for this process is that the animal feels no pain, but I think the poor scared animals show us otherwise.
***WARNING: GRAPHIC ANIMAL ABUSE ***
This, of course, must be done by a properly certified Jewish butcher, otherwise it won’t be kosher.
How it goes, from Temple Grandin’s essay Problems With Kosher Slaughter:
The first concern is the animals being fully conscious while having their throats slashed. How can these rabbis “know” the fully conscious animals feel no pain?
Another concern is depth of the cut. The trachea and carotids are cut, but so are the jugular veins and esophagus. This allows stomach contents to leak out as the animal is hung up to let the blood drain and raise the risk of product contamination. E. coli comes to mind….
Here are more details about shechita if you’re interested.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) (not an open endorsement) called attention to problems in California here.
I am all for banning ritual slaughter. I realize that US slaughterhouses aren’t exactly petting zoos, but at least animals are to be stunned before slaughter, and I’m for any improvements that could be made in our own processes that make it cleaner and more humane. And as an atheist and secularist, I do not support any permissions to circumventing US laws to appease imaginary friends in the sky. Supposedly some kosher slaughterhouses are so clean as to no longer need inspection by federal agents, but that’s favoritism and I oppose it, as does the US Constitution. I doubt that without regulation that the kosher facilities are clean and humane. History shows us that a lack of regulation and outright deregulation mean standards are low to non-existent to keep costs down. It’s the Libertarian way!
What about the unintended occurrence where a plant worker gets injured and contaminates dairy or pareve products with blood and/or limbs? Who would really call in the rabbi to “kasher” the machine after the federally-mandated cleaning and disinfecting process? They will already have been shut down for hours or days and had to throw away hundreds or even thousands of pounds of product. Another delay would only cost more money, never mind the additional fees the rabbi would charge.
Scavengers, rodents, camels, and Little Bunny Foo Foo. Hasenpfeffer just wasn’t popular in that area I guess.
And how could I forget pork. We here in the States do love bacon. Breakfast with eggs and toast with butter (insert a big kosher cringe → here), or slap some onto a burger. With cheese. Oh! Did I mix meat and dairy again?
I can see the point of banning things that make people sick. A friend once told me that a Muslim friend of hers said that pork is banned in Islam because people could tell it was causing illness. That’s a fair point, but not a point not mentioned in the Torah or the Quran. But now we have science, which says to cook pork to 145˚F.No trichinosis here!
But what about diseases not mentioned in the Torah? Temple Grandin weighs in:
(A hilariously bold yet arrogant assumption, that USDA regulations are based on Jewish practices.)
So the shochet can throw out the baby with the bathwater and waste an entire carcass when science can verify the safety of other parts, or the shochet can ignore what science won’t because an outdated book of fiction didn’t document other diseases. How safe do you feel eating kosher meat, knowing that ignorance reigns over science?
I had to laugh when I read the description for kosher dairy products:
There is no way that modern dairies could possibly keep track of which animals turn out to be sick at slaughter or natural death. Meat is only certified kosher after “proper” slaughter and inspection, so how could anyone tell if the milk will be kosher too? If one animal turned out to be sick, then entire vats of product would be contaminated and need to be tossed out, and that’s if they could figure out where the sick animal’s contributions ended up.
Cheese is a point of contention:
I wonder if they do this just to argue, and to make sure that people pay for kosher certification. Besides, one should always take the word of a medieval religious figure over the findings of modern scientists... not.
Pareve includes fruits, vegetables, grains, water, eggs, and fish. Yep, eggs and fish. Neutral foods can be eaten with meat or dairy, but meat and dairy should not be mixed. Just be sure to wash away the bugs! More on the creepy-crawlies in a minute.
Kosher certifying agencies proudly proclaim that pareve products are allergen-free and great for lactose-intolerant people and allergy sufferers. So they claim.
Allergy concerns and dairy-free certifications
Kosher pareve may not be as “dairy/meat free” as some would like to believe. Allergy sufferers may find that what is pareve may not always be completely free of dairy products and could cause problems for them. Go Dairy Free weighs in, with a disclaimer from the Orthodox Union:
Dairy-free “certifications” tend to rely upon kosher, like So Delicious Dairy Free. Weird how this “dairy free” product lists kosher dairy as one of the potential symbols on their products.
We observed the problems with that practice above, but one would hope with a name that includes “dairy-free” the manufacturer would be conscious enough to exclude all dairy, and not just run a dairy production line next to a non-dairy line. Even then, that’s not a wise assumption as many manufacturing facilities run different brands and products at the same time.
Kids With Food Allergies cautions that pareve may not be all that:
So where does this leave gelatin?
Could someone please explain to me how just boiling collagen could cause such a “total chemical change” that skin from a non-kosher animal can suddenly become kosher? How can rabbis make a scientific claim when their reasons for ruling out pigs aren’t scientific? Please outline these “total chemical changes”, start to finish, and how Yahweh would approve despite this practice not being outlined in the Torah. Here is the science behind gelatin, but this has nothing to do with religious decrees.
Oh, and is gelatin considered meat or pareve? Would Jello-Whip be kosher?
Another face-palm here
What else can be kosher? Appliances! Astoundingly, there is a whole list of manufacturers that has offered up their products for ritual slaughter -- oops, I mean certification. Star-K waves their magic kosher wand over them and likely makes a big chunk of change off the transaction. But beware, some sneaky manufacturers may have the “Sabbath mode” activated but not have the Star-K blessing to work for you when you’re not allowed to lift a finger. Beware of this vile non-kosher scam!
Oh wait… Kosher is the scam.
Now if appliances can be kosher, what’s the limit? I’m not sure there is a limit as long as no pork or shellfish came near. Other products stamped kosher are, oddly enough, plastic wrap, food baggies, hotels, personal lubricants, and marijuana!
Blessed. I’m fine with that, as I’m not impressed by prayers from people who think of me as a whore because I was born to Christian parents. Honestly, I don’t think that most Jews know about that one, but rabbis would.
Haha, I love how they mention bugs as not kosher. I guess they don’t realize that no matter how many checks they make in the manufacturing facilities, there is no way to eliminate all potential contamination of food, especially in giant production plants. I don’t know how many bugs I’ve found in containers of “kosher” salad, and creamy peanut butter should never “crunch”.
One could even make the argument of carcinogenic pesticides being kosher, since bugs are way worse than cancer in Yahweh’s blind eyes, but I’m sure the apologists will tell me I’m taking things “out of context”. We atheists seem to have an uncanny ability to take things “out of context”. But I digress.
Revolting contaminants ignored by rabbis
The FDA has acceptable levels of contamination, including but not limited to insects, larvae, damage caused by insects, rodents, hair, excrement, mold, harvest contaminants (excess plant parts), parasites, and rot, among other ickiness. Check out the generous tolerances, if you have the stomach for it, here. Who knew that beer could be more aphid than hops? Prost!
Now I admit I haven’t weighed 2500 aphids, but I do know from chemistry classes in high school and college that 10 grams of anything isn’t much either. The standard for kosher beer is hilarious, as most unflavored beers are considered kosher even without certification. Yeah I don’t get this either.
With the FDA tolerances established, how can any food or product possibly qualify for kosher certification? The supervising rabbis would need to ignore the FDA-allowable contaminants, otherwise nothing at all could be certified kosher. This means no fees to collect.
Speaking of fees, it’s anyone’s guess as to how the money is used, since Snopes debunked the claim that the funds go to Israeli pursuits. Snopes says these are “corporations, not charities”. Snopes also lost credibility during the 2016 election, so I'm not going to support or dispute their claims.
As for the cost of the certification process, you’re likely asking yourself, “why in the world should all consumers be fleeced for kosher tattoos (haha, see what I did there) when this nonsense is designed for Jews only, and maybe Seventh-Day Adventists?” OK has your answer, though not much of one:
How can they possibly “gain additional business” when 1) only a tiny minority of the population is Jewish, and 2) almost all food in the US is already “kosher”? Never mind the fact that manufacturers don’t give us a cost analysis of their operations or detail their projected sales to Jews and non-Jews.
Wikipedia states that complaining about non-Jews also being charged for kosher certification is “anti-semitic” and raves about the benefits of kosher. It’s the same vague “highest quality” claims that the kosher certification organizations give but can’t say how kosher products are superior. And they remind you that if you dare to question the need for the vast majority of the food produced in the US to be certified kosher, you’re a racist and bigot. They say calls to boycott are just mean, but in reality trying to boycott kosher in the US means a diet of pork, shellfish, and nothing else. Boycotting kosher is impossible.
In short, there is nothing in kosher certification that indicates higher quality and/or better health. It has everything to do with making money by forcing the “dietary restrictions” of “God’s chosen people” on the US population as a whole. For a fee of course.
An article on the kosher scam wouldn’t be complete without Brother Nathanael weighing in. Love him or hate him, no one would know more about this racket than a former Jew. Check his thoughts out here and here.
Charles Guiliani talks about kosher here. He contradicts Snopes in terms of what is done with the money. Watch/listen with caution, he’s pretty blunt.
Forbidden TV did their own exposé. The presenter is much more polite than Charles Guiliani.
Dennis Fetcho talks about the kosher tax here.
If the issues outlined above don’t get your attention, maybe this will: Kosher certification went from Jewish nonsense to a multi-billion dollar world-wide racket. Italy is sadly under the impression that they could improve their already-perfect Parmesan with kosher certification. I admit I buy European products whenever possible (like Kerrygold) because of the lack of kosher and/or halal certification, but now it seems I need to start checking. Even China and India seem to have fallen into the trap, and they aren’t big on any of the Abrahamic myths.
Salt. ALL salt is certified kosher in the U. S. Chefs, so stop calling coarse salt “kosher salt” because all salt is kosher here. Please specify table, iodized, pickling, plain, coarse, fine, super fine, fine sea, coarse sea, red or black Hawaiian, hickory or mesquite smoked, flaked, rock, Celtic, fleur de sel, Himalayan pink fine or rock salt or whatever because stupidly enough, salt just can’t be sold in the U. S. without rabbinical permission. SALT. Plain old ordinary salt.
Here is the excuse for calling “kosher salt”, kosher salt. This type of salt has everything to do with the grain of the salt itself and nothing to do with being kosher or not, since 98% of the U. S. population won’t be “kasherizing” their meat.
Jews are not allowed to buy and consume products made by repulsive goyim.
Aww, isn’t that sweet to exclude bread and bread bakers from discrimination. Bread is the staff of life, so I guess an exception would have to be made so that no one starves to death.
In short, non-Jews are expected to pay for this unnecessary tax for no good reason at all. Actually the reason is simple: the Talmud allows Jews to deceive and cheat non-Jews. I doubt that Jews would actually protest passing the costs of kosher certification off onto non-Jews.
So concludes part one of the absurd yet ego-boosting certification saga. Now go enjoy a nice aphid-contaminated non-kosher cold one. Stay tuned, halal is next!