5. Are Tofutti products Kosher?
Kosher is a Hebrew term that refers to food that has been prepared in accordance with Jewish Dietary Law. The term itself means “proper.” Kosher Law stems from the Biblical concept that food has both a spiritual as well as physical relevance. These laws are complex and kosher food requires the supervision of a competent Rabbi.
Contrary to common misconception, a “Rabbi’s Blessings” is not the Koshering Process. In order for any food to be certified Kosher, it must meet the requirements of Jewish Law, which can vary widely depending upon the nature of the product.
The five requirements of Kashruth (the noun of Kosher) are the following.
All pork products are inherently unable to be Kosher. The law also forbids consumption of birds of prey (e.g. owls, vultures, and eagles). Seafood that does not have fins and scales (e.g. shrimp, crabs, and oysters) are also not permitted. The use of various by-products of non-Kosher animals is also forbidden. Acceptable animals include the flesh of all quadrupeds with cloven (split) hooves (ie: cattle, sheep, and goats). barnyard fowl and scaly fish with fins are permissible.
Fresh vegetables and fruits in their natural state are inherently Kosher, unless insect infested.
The acceptable animals must be slaughtered and prepared according to certain regulations. If this is not followed, the entire food is non-Kosher.
No dairy or meat products may be mixed or consumed at the same time. Separate cooking utensils and equipment must be used for these products.
*The above list is only a guide to the general requirements of the laws of Kashruth. Many other regulations exist.
Meat: Includes ruminants with split hooves and poultry that have been slaughtered in a prescribed manner. The meat must undergo a soaking and salting procedure to remove any remaining blood. The whole procedure must be done under the supervision of a Rabbi or “Mashgiach.”
Dairy: Milk and all its derivatives. Milk from a non-Kosher animal (e.g. pig, camel, etc.) is not Kosher. Even a very small amount of meat or dairy (or their derivatives) in a product renders that product “meat dairy.”
Parve (Neutral): Everything kosher that does not fall under the above two categories. This includes eggs, plants, and kosher fish. Meat and dairy products and their derivatives may not be mixed or eaten together in any amount. Parve products can be mixed with either meat or dairy. Contrary to popular belief, Parve does not always mean vegan. For instance, a product can be Parve, but not vegan. Honey and eggs are considered parve, but they are certainly not vegan.
Non-Kosher: All ruminant animals and those that do not have split hooves, all animals that have not been slaughtered, soaked, salted, and inspected according to Jewish Law, all shell fish, all insects, all grape juice products that have not been supervised by a Rabbi, all hard cheese products that have not been supervised by a Rabbi, all mixtures of meat and dairy ingredients and their derivatives, and all mixtures of meat and fish.
Non-Kosher through processing—This may apply to food and ingredients whose manufacture or processing includes a heat step (above 115° F), e.g. spray-dried products, reacted flavors, production of fatty acids, canned foods, etc. If the equipment has been previously used for non-Kosher products, it renders any Kosher product non-Kosher. The product is viewed as absorbing the non-Kosher material from the walls of the equipment. However, if this equipment undergoes a special cleaning process called “Kosherization” under the supervision of a Rabbi, it can be used for Kosher products. Consequently, ingredients that by their nature do not require supervision, such as petroleum derived and inorganic chemicals, require investigation of their process history.
Equipment used to prepare non-Kosher products may be rendered non-Kosher. Kosher food prepared on this equipment may become non-Kosher. For example, vegetable oil is inherently kosher, but may be non-Kosher if it is run on equipment used for animal tallow as well.
Kosher supervision is the observation of the entire production process by a qualified Rabbi to guarantee that the food is produced in accordance with Jewish Law. Thus, kosher supervision focuses on two areas: 1. The supervisory agency must approve as Kosher all ingredients used in the product. 2. The supervisory agency must approve the equipment used for the food production.
In order to ascertain that the guidelines set by the kosher agency are implemented, a rabbinical supervisor visits the plant regularly to inspect the ingredients and equipment for kosher production. The frequency with which the kosher supervision agency inspects the food production process is in part responsible for how much credibility the agency has with other kosher certifying agencies as well as to the consumer who purchases the products. Just because a food is certified Kosher is no guarantee the food will be accepted by all customers following the Jewish Dietary Laws. The same applies to ingredients. It is up to the certifying agency as to which kosher agencies they will accept ingredients from.
According to the Orthodox tradition, bread is considered to be the “staff of life” and therefore it must be able to be eaten at every meal. Bread, therefore, must be Parve. For this reason, breads containing dairy products may not be considered Kosher. Even though the bread is not kosher, the ingredients used to make it must be Kosher. If they are not Kosher, not only is the bread not Kosher, but also the equipment used to produce the food is now non-Kosher and all products produced on that equipment become non-Kosher. The equipment may be made Kosher again if it is kashered under the supervision of a rabbi.
Should you have any further questions about kosher, please contact our kosher supervisory service, the KOF-K at Kof-K Kosher Supervision, 201 The Plaza, Teaneck, NJ 07666. The telephone number is 201-837-0500 and you may look them up on their website at www.kof-k.org. Because they contain no dairy, all Tofutti products are certified as Kosher Parve, which means they can be consumed with meat.
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