Polarizing kosher labels
by Charlotte Atchley
When considering kosher certification, bakers must decide which certifications to pursue and how it will affect their consumer base. Kosher includes three subheads of labeling: kosher dairy, kosher meat and pareve. Kosher requires that dairy and meat never mix, so these subcategories help prevent kosher-observing people from accidentally consuming dairy and meat together.
Products labeled kosher dairy contain some form of dairy while certified kosher meat involves some meat component. The third label, pareve, is a neutral kosher certification, designating that the kosher product contains neither meat nor dairy and can be paired with either. Bakery products are often certified dairy or pareve; however, sandwich bread cannot be certified dairy. Avrom Pollak, PhD, president, Star-K Certification, explained that this is because sandwich breads are often used to make sandwiches containing meat, this rule prevents consumers from accidentally using a bread containing dairy to make a sandwich with meat.
“One might forget that this bread was certified dairy and has butter or whey powder or dairy proteins,” he said. “If that were the case, they might inadvertently eat the bread during a meal with meat in it.”
Many bakers choose pareve certification because this works across the board with consumers and foodservice customers who can add meat or dairy to a baked good without concern.
Bakeries that choose to certify some products dairy and some pareve must make adjustments in their operations and ingredient storage to ensure dairy ingredients do not contaminate pareve ingredients. Kosher certifiers routinely help bakers juggle both types of ingredients to ensure cross-contamination cannot happen.