A friend of mine asked me that question and all I know is it is made in a method approved by the Orthodox Union but I don’t know WHAT makes it kosher.
What makes it Kosher is not having any nonkosher ingredients.
A rabbi or such doesn’t have to bless it or wave anything. He just makes sure that the ingredients are kosher and nonkosher products are not used in (on?) the same equipment.
As far as I can recall, all vegetable matter is kosher. Incidentally, all kosher mammals and birds are herbivores, although not conversely. With sea animals, it is different; basically any true fish ought to be kosher, although some with only vestigal scales are problematic.
adirondack_mike has it correct. Coca-Cola is kosher because it does not have any unkosher ingredients, nor are kosher ingredients used in combinations that make them unkosher (such as milk and meat).
A certifiying authority (the Orthodox Union, in the case of Coca Cola) certifies that the kashrus rules were followed throughout.
Mammals are kosher if they chew their cud and have split hooves.
Birds are kosher if they are not named in the lists of unkosher birds in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. That means that the vast majority of birds in the world are, in fact, kosher. However, since the exact translation of the names of those birds have been in doubt for some time, the custom today is to only eat birds for which we have a tradition that they are kosher.
Fish are kosher if they have fins and scales. Not all scales, however, qualify as kosher scales.
Vegetable matter is kosher. However, there are circumstances under which even vegetable matter can be forbidden for consumption, but those rules mainly deal with produce grown in Israel.
I’ve always been interested by Kosher and Halal laws.
Zev, would it be possible you could elaborate on these non-Kosher vegetables?
I’m not Zev, nor do I have his knowlege of halacha sources, but I can try. The two major categories of non-kosher vegetable matter that I can think of both relate to produce grown in Israel. One involves produce grown during a Sabbatical year (every seventh year - the next one is the Jewish year 5768, starting with Rosh Hashana in Sept. 2007), which can’t be planted, harvested and sold for profit. (If people own an orchard, let’s say, which would produce whether or not they do any farming that year, I believe that they can pick some for their own use that day, but not to store or sell. However, these aren’t laws I’ve particularly studied, so I’m not sure of the specifics.) There are certain loopholes that some people will use that complicate the issue, but to keep things simple, I’ll leave it at that. The other is that all produce grown in Israel needs to have tithes taken off of it. Back in the day, this 10% was given to the priests. Before it’s been tithed, it’s not considered kosher.
There are certain other things I can think of, but these are either not universally agreed upon (eg yoshon) or are more obscure. One other thing technically doesn’t mean plant matter, but bugs aren’t kosher, which means that people who keep kosher are very careful to debug their leafy vegetables and such by careful inspection or soaking in a dilute solution of vinegar. (You’d be surprised by how buggy the produce is in the average supermarket - I’ve checked :D)
Cheers. Thanks for that, GilaB.
Another thing that I have heard is that some religious Jews won’t eat vegetables such as cauliflower, where the leaves are curled so tightly that you can never be sure that there is not a bug trapped somewhere within it - rather than take the chance, they abstain.
Does how an animal is slaughtered matter? In otherwords can offing a cow incorrectly render it unkosher.
Nope. Chickens are kosher and eat all sorts of rubbish including carrion.
Yep. An animal killed by other animals is immediately non-kosher, which brings up some interesting problems with animals hunted with the use of dogs.
Halal laws do have the method of slaughter as a stipulation of being halal. A halal animal is one which is a herbivore, and there is a strict prohibition against pork. The animal has to be killed such that all the blood is drained from its body, and at the time of slaughter, the name of Allah should be recited over it. The animal should only be slaughtered by a Muslim, or another Person of the Book (i.e. a Jew or a Christian). Therefore, Kosher meat is essentially Halal meat.
I’m also not Zev, but I have one more item to add to what GilaB said. There is also the matter, regarding fruits and vegetables grown in Irael, of the Levitical and Preistly tithes. Fruits and vegetables grown there which have not had said tithes set apart are called “Tevel” and are forbidden to be eaten. This situation can, however, be remedied by the would-be eater himself separating the tithes on the food he’s about to eat. (Caveat: There is a very specific way of doing this according to Jewish law, a description of which is lacking here.)
Oh, good, since we have a kosherclatch here, can we cover another “vegetable matter” issue? What are the rules on grapes? My understanding is that because grapes can be turned into wine, there’s a fairly elaborate set of rules - IIRC, for a grape product to be kosher the grapes must be handled only by Jews, or maybe it’s that the handling must be closely supervised by Jews. I recall that products using concentrated grape juice as a sweetener are a problem.
Kosher Consumer (pdf) stated in their Purim 5758 newsletter:
Coke has the same recipe around the world. If only CERTAIN plants get the “OU”, I would have to conclude that there is some kind of rabbinical supervision PRESENT in these “accepted” plants. I suspect laws similar to those of Bishul Akum would have to be followed. Interesting. I’ll try to look further into this.
Oxy, AFAIK grapes as fruit are subject to the same quality-control rules as other fruits. The issue is with wine-making; kosher wine must be handled only by highly observant Jews (specifically with respect to Shabbat) until after it’s been boiled. This is to prevent any ritual contamination that could result in unkosher wine being used in religious ceremonies (such as Shabbat & festival dinners).
Adding external sweeteners to wine is a wine-making problem, I think, more than a kashrut issue.
Good catch. Yes, extracts (even non-alcoholic) from grapes fall under the category of wine, and must have been boiled in order to have been Kosher if handled by non-Jews. With proper Rabbinical certification of this fact, such products can be Kosher.
Intact grapes or raisins do not have that issue, though.
Chaim Mattis Keller