Discover which foods are not considered kosher and why it matters.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Non-kosher foods are those that do not meet the dietary guidelines set forth in Jewish law.

In this article, we will explore the definition of kosher food, the importance of keeping kosher, and provide a comprehensive list of foods that are not considered kosher.

Understanding what foods are not kosher can help individuals make informed choices about their diet and ensure compliance with kosher dietary restrictions.

What is Kosher Food?

Kosher food refers to food that is prepared and consumed according to Jewish dietary laws. These laws, known as kashrut, dictate the types of food that are considered kosher and the specific ways in which they must be prepared and handled. Keeping kosher is an important aspect of Jewish culture and religion, and it involves a set of dietary restrictions and guidelines that must be followed.

Definition of Kosher

Kosher is a Hebrew word that means “fit” or “proper.” In the context of food, it refers to food that is deemed acceptable for consumption according to Jewish law. The rules of kashrut are outlined in the Torah, the Jewish holy book, and they cover various aspects of food production, including sourcing, processing, and preparation.

One of the key principles of kosher food is the separation of meat and dairy products. According to kosher dietary laws, these two categories of food must not be consumed or cooked together. This means that kosher kitchens have separate sets of dishes, utensils, and even sinks for meat and dairy products. Additionally, kosher laws dictate that certain animals are considered kosher while others are not. For example, kosher meat must come from animals that chew their cud and have split hooves, such as cows, sheep, and goats.

Kosher Dietary Laws

The kosher dietary laws are comprehensive and cover a wide range of food categories. Some of the main guidelines include:

  • Separating meat and dairy products
  • Only consuming meat from kosher animals
  • Using kosher ingredients and avoiding certain additives
  • Following specific rules for slaughtering animals
  • Removing blood from meat before consumption
  • Vetting fruits and vegetables for insects

These laws are designed to promote purity, cleanliness, and ethical treatment of animals. They also serve as a way for Jewish individuals to connect with their heritage and maintain a sense of community.

For more information on kosher food and the dietary laws, you can visit or OU Kosher, two authoritative websites on Jewish culture and religion.

The Importance of Keeping Kosher

Keeping kosher is an important aspect of Jewish tradition and has been practiced for centuries. It involves adhering to a set of dietary laws outlined in the Torah, which dictate which foods are considered kosher (or “fit”) for consumption. While some may view these dietary restrictions as outdated or unnecessary, there are several reasons why keeping kosher continues to hold significance in the Jewish community.

Religious Significance

Kosher dietary laws are deeply rooted in religious teachings and hold great spiritual significance for those who follow them. The Torah outlines specific guidelines for what can and cannot be eaten, with the aim of fostering a sense of holiness and mindfulness in everyday life. By adhering to these laws, individuals are reminded of their connection to God and their commitment to living a righteous life.

The practice of keeping kosher also serves as a way to honor and preserve Jewish identity and heritage. By maintaining a distinct set of dietary laws, Jews can differentiate themselves from other cultures and affirm their unique religious practices. This sense of identity and belonging is an important part of maintaining a strong and vibrant Jewish community.

Spiritual and Physical Health Benefits

Beyond its religious significance, keeping kosher can also have both spiritual and physical health benefits. The dietary laws promote mindfulness and intentionality in eating, encouraging individuals to be conscious of what they consume and how it is prepared. This can lead to a greater appreciation for the food we eat and a more mindful approach to nourishing our bodies.

From a physical health perspective, kosher dietary laws require certain animals to undergo specific slaughter methods and exclude the consumption of certain animals altogether. These practices ensure that the meat is properly prepared and free from any potential health risks. Additionally, the separation of meat and dairy products helps prevent the consumption of harmful bacteria and promotes good hygiene practices in the kitchen.

While keeping kosher may require some additional effort and consideration, many individuals find that the benefits far outweigh the challenges. By adhering to these dietary laws, individuals can deepen their connection to their faith, preserve their cultural heritage, and promote both spiritual and physical well-being.

For more information on kosher dietary laws and their significance, you can visit or

Foods Not Considered Kosher

Pork and Shellfish

One of the most well-known restrictions in kosher dietary laws is the prohibition of consuming pork and shellfish. According to Jewish dietary laws, or kashrut, these animals are considered unclean and are therefore not allowed to be eaten. The Torah specifically prohibits the consumption of pork in Leviticus 11:7-8, stating that “the pig, for its hoof is split and it does not chew the cud, it is unclean for you. You shall not eat of their flesh nor touch their carcasses.” Similarly, shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, and clams are also considered non-kosher due to their classification as bottom-dwelling creatures without fins or scales.

Mixing Meat and Dairy

Another important aspect of kosher dietary laws is the separation of meat and dairy products. The Torah prohibits the mixing of meat and dairy in Exodus 23:19, stating that “you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” This prohibition extends beyond just consuming them together in the same meal; it also includes cooking, storing, and serving them together. As a result, kosher kitchens have separate sets of dishes, utensils, and even separate sinks for washing meat and dairy products.

Insects and Rodents

Kosher dietary laws also prohibit the consumption of insects and rodents. Leviticus 11:41-42 states that “every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth is a detestable thing; it shall not be eaten. Whatever crawls on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, all the swarming things that swarm upon the earth, you shall not eat them, for they are detestable.” This includes insects such as ants, flies, and beetles, as well as rodents like rats and mice.

Blood and Certain Animal By-Products

Another restriction in kosher dietary laws is the prohibition of consuming blood and certain animal by-products. In Leviticus 17:10-11, it is stated that “anyone from the house of Israel or from the foreigners who sojourn among them who eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.” Therefore, kosher meat must undergo a process called kashering, which involves salting and rinsing to remove any remaining blood.

Common Non-Kosher Ingredients


Gelatin is a common ingredient found in many food products, such as gummy candies, marshmallows, and gelatin desserts. However, it is not considered kosher because it is derived from animal collagen, usually from pigs or other non-kosher animals. Gelatin is used as a thickening agent and gives foods a smooth and creamy texture. To ensure that a product is kosher, look for alternatives to gelatin, such as agar-agar, which is derived from seaweed.


Lard is a type of rendered pork fat that is commonly used in cooking and baking. It is not kosher because it comes from a non-kosher animal. Lard is used to add flavor and moisture to foods, particularly in pastry and fried dishes. To make a dish kosher-friendly, you can substitute lard with vegetable shortening or oil, which are both kosher alternatives and often provide similar results.


Carmine, also known as cochineal extract or carmine red, is a red dye that is derived from crushed cochineal insects. It is commonly used as a coloring agent in food and beverages. However, carmine is not considered kosher because insects are not permitted in a kosher diet. To identify if a product contains carmine, look for it on the ingredient list or check for a kosher certification symbol.


Glycerin is a sweetener and moisture-retaining agent that is commonly used in food and personal care products. While glycerin can be derived from both plant and animal sources, it is not considered kosher if it is derived from non-kosher animals. To ensure that a product is kosher, look for glycerin that is certified kosher or made from plant sources, such as vegetable glycerin.

Non-Kosher Certification

When it comes to determining whether a food product is kosher, it is essential to look for a kosher certification symbol. This symbol indicates that the product has been inspected and approved by a recognized kosher certification agency. Some well-known kosher certification agencies include the Orthodox Union (OU), OK Kosher, and Kof-K. These organizations have rigorous standards and procedures in place to ensure that a product meets the requirements of a kosher diet. You can find the kosher certification symbol on the packaging of the product or by visiting the website of the certification agency.

Kosher Certification Symbols

When it comes to purchasing food products that are kosher, one of the key things to look out for is the kosher certification symbol. These symbols are issued by recognized kosher certification agencies and indicate that the food item meets the strict dietary requirements of Jewish law.

Understanding Kosher Symbols

Kosher symbols can vary depending on the agency that issued the certification. However, there are some common symbols that you may come across when shopping for kosher products. One of the most widely recognized symbols is the Orthodox Union (OU) symbol, which is a capital U inside a circle. This symbol indicates that the product is certified kosher by the Orthodox Union, one of the most respected kosher certification agencies in the world.

Another commonly seen symbol is the Star-K symbol, which features a capital K inside a star. This symbol represents certification by the Star-K Kosher Certification agency, which is known for its stringent kosher standards. Additionally, the Kof-K symbol, an encircled K, is also highly regarded in kosher certification.

It’s important to note that these symbols are not just decorative; they serve as a guarantee that the food product has been produced in accordance with Jewish dietary laws and has undergone proper supervision and inspection.

Recognized Kosher Certification Agencies

There are numerous kosher certification agencies around the world that provide trusted certification for kosher products. Some of the most well-known agencies include:

These agencies have established reputations for their expertise in kosher certification and are widely recognized by consumers and food manufacturers alike. When you see a product with the symbol from one of these agencies, you can have confidence that it meets the highest standards of kosher certification.

It’s important to note that not all kosher certification agencies use symbols, as some may rely on text-based certifications. However, regardless of the format, the presence of a recognized certification mark is crucial in ensuring the kosher status of a food product.


In conclusion, adhering to kosher dietary laws is an important aspect of Jewish tradition and culture.

By understanding what foods are not considered kosher, individuals can make informed choices about their diet and uphold their religious and cultural practices.

Keeping kosher not only has religious significance but also offers spiritual and physical health benefits.

Remember to look out for common non-kosher ingredients and familiarize yourself with kosher certification symbols when purchasing food products.

Whether you follow a kosher diet or are simply curious about Jewish dietary laws, this article serves as a valuable resource for understanding what foods are not kosher.

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