It is foodstuff that has been suitably prepared according to Jewish law.
Kosher principles are laid out in the Torah and the rules abide by those set out by Kashrus – the comprehensive Jewish dietary laws.
What are the primary rules?
Meat and dairy must be completely separated, which means they cannot be cooked or eaten together.
Kosher kitchens contain separate sets of utensils and preparation areas to ensure this is followed. It also means that dairy and meat cannot be served on the same table.
According to Kosher certification organisation Badatz Igud Rabbonim KIR, the rule was interpreted from the Torah, which states: “You may not cook a young animal in the milk of its mother” (Ex.23:19).
It also means a person must wait an interval of between one and three hours after eating meat before eating dairy.
The only Kosher animals, for all intents and purposes, are cows, sheep and goats, while Kosher poultry includes chicken, duck, turkey, geese and pigeon, says KF Kashrus, another Kosher certification agency.
Permissible animals must have cloven hooves as well as chew the cud, and must be slaughtered according to laws in the Torah, with the animal’s death to be as instantaneous as possible.
The religious slaughter must also include the removal of the animal’s blood, prohibited fats and veins.
Dairy produce is only Kosher if it derives from one of the animals aforementioned and it must not contain non-Kosher additives or products, however small, within it.
Fish can only be eaten if it has fins and scales – such as tuna, herring and salmon – whereas shellfish like crabs and lobsters are prohibited.
Pareve foods are those that are neither meat nor diary and thus are considered ‘neutral’, such as vegetables, grains and fruit.
However, because the consumption of insects is forbidden, some fruit liable to infestation must also be scrutinised.
Chocolate and other sweet snacks must be Kosher certified and be processed using equipment that abides by the dietary laws. Chocolate can be either ‘dairy certified’ or ‘pareve’.
What about drinks?
Alcohol is generally Kosher but drinks that derive from the grape, such a wine or port, are subject to strict constraints surrounding their production.