Do You Know What Could Be in Your Food?

Here is a most fascinating list of things that could be in your food. Some of the items can not be in kosher food, but others can.


Cellulose is made from wood. It is an anti-caking agent.  Kosher/Pareve

Carmine is a natural food color.  It is a deep red.  It comes from the shells of cochineal beetles in Mexico. The shells are crushed and made into a dye.  Almost all authorities consider Carmine to be trefe.

Cholic Acid is animal bile.  It is used as an emulsifier mostly in powdered eggs.  It could be kosher.  It requires kosher certification.    If you served in the US Armed Forces, you had it in your morning eggs!

L Form Cysteine is most commonly made from the hair of dead, white women.  It can be from feathers, but they are not a good source, and are, therefore not economical. In China, cysteine is made from pig hair.  Not kosher.  Found in non-kosher bread.

Musk comes from a gland between the testes and the anus of a deer. It was used in baking, in particular to flavor butter crème.  Musk is not kosher. Today in the US, musk is only used in perfume, and the baking industry only uses synthetic musk.

Ambergris comes from the intestines of whales.  It is used as a flavor enhancer.  It is not kosher.

Castoreum is the secrete of a gland located between the pelvis and base of the tail of the beaver. It is used as a flavor enhancer mostly for vanilla, strawberry, and raspberry flavors. The total world production of castoreum is under 300 pounds (136 kilos).

I once asked a famous food technologist how they discovered castoreum.  His first answer is that most of these things are accidents.  He went on to ask me if I had ever smelled a beaver’s tush.  I gave him a look that said, “Are you nuts?”  What I said was, “Um, no.  I have never been in a close relationship with a beaver.”  It turns out that a beaver’s tush smells very sweet. Ultimately, they found that the secreted fluid was good for a flavor enhancer.   Not kosher.  Not used today.

Lac, Shellac, Resinous glaze is made from the secretion of an insect. It is what makes hard candies shiny.  It is totally not digestible. The way it goes in is the way it goes out.  Although there are some authorities who say it is not kosher, overwhelmingly, the kosher world accepts it as kosher.

Civet comes from cats. It is similar to castoreum in that it comes from the anus of the cat. The difference is that civet smells like a dead animal (shtinkt vi a pegger).  However, if you dilute it to 1/10th of one percent, it smells lovely.  It is used to simulate caramel, rum, or butter flavors.  Civet was harvested by scraping the anus of the cat every two weeks.  Thankfully, today we use civetone, a synthetic that is kosher. Civetone smells like butter and lilly.

Methylparaben is the vaginal discharge of dogs in estrus (ie,when they are capable of conception).  It is not kosher.  It is added to ice cream and soda.  Many countries today have banned this substance.

Sperm Oil comes from whales and is not kosher.  It is used as a lubricant and a release agent in baking.

Amylase comes from saliva and pancreatic fluid.  It converts sugars into starch. It comes from pigs.  It is not kosher.

Lactic Acid is always pareve.  It comes from cornstarch and molasses.  The lactic acid used in ice cream is made from whey, and is dairy. It is used as a preservative and flavoring.

Lactose is made from milk sugar and is dairy.  It is a sweetener.

Lecithin is made from soybeans or corn oil. It is used as an emulsifier most commonly found in chocolate.  It is almost always pareve.

The second most expensive coffee in the world is Kopi Luwak coffee.  Coffee beans are eaten by a breed of Asian cat.  The beans pass directly through the cat’s system without being digested.  When the cat poops, the beans are harvested, sanitized, and roasted.  They say it makes the very best coffee.   It is kosher, by the way.

For those of you who grew up in America, you might remember Maxwell House Coffee. Their motto was good to the last drop.  Here, the motto is good to the last dropping.

Posted on May 9, 2017 at 12:02 am by Rabbi Jeffrey Rappoport · Permalink
In: General Topics, Health, Kosher Alert, Kosher Kitchen

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