Government Definition of Milk Raises New Questions for Kashrus Officials


milkAn increasing number of Jews consume only cholov Yisroel products, contributing to sales that may be as high as $250 million in the US. Many observant Jews consume dairy products that are kosher but may not have been supervised during the milking process. They rely on a ruling by the posek hador, Maran Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l, who permitted the non-supervised milk because of governmental inspection of dairies that verifies that milk from non-kosher animals is not present. Some kashrus officials rely on other halachic opinions that simply follow the majority, which in the US is milk that is mostly from cows.

In recent years the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has moved to broaden the definition to include milk from non-kosher animals prompting Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein (D-Chicago) to successfully amend the Grade A Pasteurized Milk and Milk Products Act to “define labeling to address Jewish dietary issues.”

While the FDA’s expanded definition includes other hooved mammals besides cows and goats, Senate Bill 1228 amends the law to prohibit the sale of other sources of milk and milk products other than that from cows and goats if they are not labeled. As a result, camel milk would not be considered kosher.

In a statement, the Chicago Rabbinical Council, headed by Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, applauded the move, but still expressed concern with the FDA’s definition of milk.

Other kashrus officials reached by KosherToday also expressed the hope that the FDA would narrow the definition of milk to cows and goats, but did not see any immediate problem with the kosher status of dairy products. One official said simply: “Ask any American where milk comes from and they will tell you from a cow.”




  1. So for those of us who do consume Chalav Stam, is there a Kashrus concern? If the OU and the like give a hechsher on a particular product, cant I rely on them?

  2. #2 – you don’t pasken from an internet article! Ask your rabbi!

    Nevertheless, it seems to me that there is no current problem – and remember that milk in the US is “produced” in farms that are virtual factories, and the farmers rely on bulk production.

    And when was the last time you saw a camel on a US farm? (Except maybe in a petting zoo.)

  3. IMO the FDA is not to be trusted. My suggestion to all yidden is to consume ONLY Cholov Yisroel Products. The government cannot be relied upon anymore.

  4. My parents and I spent a week in Chicago for a wedding exactly 15 years ago.Our host,a great machniss oirech,and a former talmid of the local Brisker Yeshiva somewhat surprised us.He opened his fridge and pointed out to my parents that there are two kinds of milk stored there.The cholov stam that is for his use and the specially purchased cholov yisroel lekovod my parents.We couldn’t help thinking that if cholov yisroel is indeed readily available,why did a talmid chochom of his stature at all purchase cholov stam?.Just to save a few cents?.We never said anything but to this day I often wonder why he and dare I say many others too rely on a heter which surely Rav Moishe only issued when no cholov yisroel was available.Or am I missing something here?.