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Kosher and Halal – What is the Difference?

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What is the difference?

You may have seen kosher and halal products in your local grocery store and wondered what the difference is. Both kosher and halal refer to foods that meet certain religious guidelines, but there are some important distinctions between the two terms. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the differences between kosher and halal foods so you can make an informed decision about which type of food is right for you.

What is Kosher?

Kosher is a term used to describe food that meets certain religious guidelines as set forth in the Torah, the Jewish holy book. In order to be considered kosher, a food must be prepared in a certain way and free from any ingredients that are not permitted by Jewish dietary law. For example, pork and shellfish are not considered kosher.

To be Kosher here are a few examples of what the food can be:

  • Beef or lamb
  • Chicken, duck, turkey
  • All fish except shellfish
  • All fruits and vegetables
  • All nuts and grain

What is Halal?

Halal is a term used to describe food that meets certain Islamic guidelines as set forth in the Qur’an, the Islamic holy book. It’s  an Arabic word that translates as ‘permissible’  – In order to be considered halal, a food must be prepared in a certain way and free from any ingredients that are not permitted by Islamic dietary law. 

To be Halal here are a few examples of what the food must be:

  • made, manufactured or processed using equipment that has been cleaned according to Islamic law and free from any component that is prohibited from eating.
  • not be pork or alcohol which are foods that may not be consumed by Muslims and which the Quran forbids.
  • slaughtered using a sharp knife, by a Muslim man and with a prayer recited.
  • certification given by a legal authority.
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What the the main differences and similarities between Kosher and Halal?

Similarities

  • Pork and pig by-products are prohibited.
  • Animals with fangs such as dog/cat/lions and bears are prohibited.
  • Amphibians and reptiles are prohibited.
  • Bovines and Bovids are permitted.
  • Aquatic animals must have scales and fins – there are some Muslim schools of thought that state all creatures from the ocean are halal whereas there
    are others that require them to have scales.
  • Gelatin is ok if it comes from a permissible animal but kosher gelatin usually comes from bones of kosher fish or vegan substitute.
  • Almost all insects are prohibited.
  • After slaughter both require the animal to be examined to ensure it is fit for consumption.
  • Strictly observant followers of either religion will not eat in restaurants that are not certified to follow its rules.

Differences

  • Alcohol is permitted in Judaism.
  • The list of animals forbidden by kashrut is more restrictive for example for a mammal to be kosher it must chew its cud and have cloven hoofs.
  • Camels and rabbits are Halal but not Kosher.
  • Kashrut requires strict separation of meat and dairy even when they are kosher
  • In kashrut cooking utensils cannot come into contact with meat and dairy.
  • Wine is central to Judaism as long as its kosher whereas in Islam alcohol is considered morally and socially unacceptable.
  •  

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“The United States houses around 40 percent of the world’s Jewish population, around 6.8 million.  It is home to the largest Jewish population and, therefore, the largest kosher markets. The largest markets are found in populous states like New York (e.g. New York City), California (particularly Los Angeles), Florida (Miami), and New Jersey. The kosher food fills a special niche in the food market and, despite the fact that only 10–15 percent of American Jews say they buy kosher, the niche was worth more than $12.5 billion in 2013. Industries that serve kosher products estimate that there are over 12 million kosher consumers in the United States and that around 1 in 5 Americans regularly or occasionally buy kosher products because they are kosher.

 

There are over 11,000 kosher-producing companies and plants throughout the United States and more than 195,000 kosher-certified packaged products sold. It is estimated that 70 percent of the food ingredients produced and 40–50 percent of foods sold in the United States are kosher.


The kosher market has been continuously growing. Over the past decades, kosher certification companies like the Orthodox Union and Gluten Free Certification have grown to meet market satisfaction. More recently, large corporations like Coca-Cola started turning segments of its production to kosher to meet demand (especially during Passover). There are kosher festivals like the Kosherfest in which many kosher chefs compete in culinary arts.” 

Source taken from:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_Islamic_and_Jewish_dietary_laws

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In summary

When it comes to understanding the difference between kosher and halal foods, it’s clear there are a lot of overlaps in these ancient religions. Quite often a Muslim will order a Kosher meal on a flight as he or she will know that it is certain not to contain pork products.

Supermarkets all over the world now stock both Halal and Kosher foods and they have become multi million dollar industries.

Each food group have established authorities to regulate their respective industries.

So if you are living now in any Western country you can decide whether you will each Halal, Kosher, both or not at all.

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