Many Americans are choosing to eat kosher food instead of their regular non-kosher foods as a part of their diets, regardless of religion. The belief is that kosher foods are generally healthier for you. Kosher meats and poultry are prepared under strict dietary laws and are believed by some to be a safer choice for those with fear of bacterial contamination and mad cow disease. Is this true? Are kosher foods healthier for you than their non-kosher counterparts?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has certain standards to the health of animals that may be eaten; kosher laws are even stricter than those standards. In Jewish law, eating animals that are visibly sick or cows with broken bones is prohibited. If you follow the Jewish standards, it will tell you how to feed, kill and process the animal. Rabbis trained in veterinary science and kosher law can reject about three times the amount that the USDA inspectors reject in their inspections when it comes to food.
Higher Deman for Kosher Foods
Consumers who seek out kosher products have been rising steadily. The kosher market has been growing especially now due to the recent scares of deadly E. coli bacteria and mad cow disease. It is interesting to see that the recent increase in sales of kosher foods is due to people’s health concerns and not religion. More and more people are discovering that kosher meats are more rigorously inspected than non-kosher meats, making the demand for the meats go up. It is also important to know that just like organic poultry and meat, kosher poultry and meats are hormone-free.
According to the kosher dietary laws, the mixing of meat and milk products is prohibited, that is why kosher food labeling has to be extremely thorough, this way you know exactly what you are consuming. Foods are categorized into three different groups; meat, dairy and parve (neutral food not containing either dairy or meat). This labeling has helped the kosher food market increase by 15% annually according to market research. The labeling of these products has made it easier for vegetarians, vegans, and lactose intolerant individuals to determine whether or not to buy certain foods.
Kosher foods are safer to eat than non-kosher foods, and in that sense, are healthier for you than other products. Under the strict kosher guidelines, close inspection of the foods is required before being consumed, which can prevent the spread of disease. For example, kosher law does not allow observant Jews to consume most insects, so when the food is being packaged, great lengths are taken to ensure that these foods do not come in contact with any insects. Doing this prevents a lot of diseases that can spread through insect contact.
Other measures are taken to keep kosher poultry and meats kosher like the extensive use of salt, which experts in the koshering process claim kills bacteria. The use of salt does add to the sodium content of the poultry and meat a little, but doing so can help halt many diseases and is, therefore, a necessary risk. In conclusion, staying with a kosher diet can help eliminate the risk of many diseases, so whether you are on the fence of whether or not kosher food is healthier for you, you have nothing to lose but a healthy lifestyle to gain.