Friday, June 3, 2011

Is Kosher Food E.Coli Free?

I was shopping at the trendy Trader Joe’s one afternoon in Los Angeles when a fellow shopper danced passed me , waving his Kosher organic chicken in my face. He told me - or sang to me - that he was 75, not Jewish, and so fit because he ate only Kosher food.
I remember a friend in Nepal who soaked the cucumbers and tomatoes with a bacteria killing agent over night, so our cook could make him a salad. I never ate it.
With the outbreak of another food related bacterium, the question arises is Kosher food less susceptible? While Kashrut generally does require more sensitive cleanliness, there is definitely a myth that kosher food is immune.
One blogger from (and author of suggest that the latest bacteria outbreak is: Perhaps A Punishment For Trying To Ban Kosher Slaughter.
The largest kosher organisation in the World, the OU, suggests on its website: “Not only Jews look for the kosher symbol on food these days. In a surprising turn of events, ‘kosher’ has become the most popular claim on new food products, trouncing ‘organic’ and ‘no additives or preservatives.’”
Whether kosher foods are actually less likely to be contaminated with, say, E. coli bacteria remains up for debate. While research is scant in this area, experts say it makes sense that kosher food could be safer because it’s more closely monitored.

“Jews aren’t allowed to ingest bugs, so produce must go through a thorough washing and checking to ensure that no bugs are found within the leaves or on the surface of the fruit or vegetable,” says Moshe Elefant, (real name) a rabbi and the chief operating officer of OU KOSHER, a kosher certification organisation.
But bacteria can remain even after this type of washing, so consumers can’t assume they’re less likely to get food poisoning with bagged spinach marked kosher than with a conventional bag.
The same caveat applies to poultry and beef. A salting process that removes blood from the meat has antibacterial effects, but salmonella and E. coli can still survive, says Joe Regenstein, a professor of food science who teaches a course on Jewish and Muslim food laws. Kosher beef, though, is much less likely to contain the misshapen proteins that cause mad cow disease...
So what to make of it all? Kosher food will definitely get you to heaven – and it might even prolong the time before you get there. (And if you’re mad it’s because of your yiddishe mama, not the kosher beef she fed you

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