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Kosher Dairy and Cheese


Milk and milk-derived products derived from kosher animals are kosher. All milk from cows, goats, and sheep is kosher. Some Haredi and Modern Orthodox rabbis hold that only "Cholov Yisroel" milk and dairy products may be consumed; this label means that the milk has been under constant supervision from milking to bottling, to make sure that it is not mixed with the milk of a non-kosher animal.

Cheese is a dairy product. Hard cheeses, however, are usually made from milk and rennet, an animal product.

Rennet is the enzyme used to turn milk into curds and whey; most forms of rennet derive from the lining of the stomach of an animal. Kosher rennet may be made from the stomachs of kosher animals slaughtered in conformance with the laws of kashrut, but is more usually made from vegetable or microbial sources. The Mishna and Talmud (in Avodah Zarah and Hullin) state that cheese made with rennet derived from a non-kosher animal is non-kosher. Orthodox authorities follow this ruling, and hold that rennet is a "d'var ha'ma'amid", an ingredient which changes the food so significantly that its presence cannot be considered negligible, so that even tiny amounts make the food it is added to non-kosher. In practice Orthodox and some Conservative Jews, who observe the laws of kashrus, eat only cheese made with kosher.

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