Is Kosher food safer? In terms of bacterial contamination, research hasn’t proven that food prepared using kosher methods is safer to eat. However, in an example of how modern science may be catching up with ancient wisdom, current food handling recommendations
from both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Department of Agriculture (USDA) closely resemble the rules for preparing kosher food. These recommendations are in place to reduce the chance of cross contamination and foodborne illness.
As the FDA’s new Food Safety Modernization Act takes hold, there is greater focus on the ongoing and growing issue of food safety. While serious outbreaks of foodborne illness are frequent, the government is striving to implement these new rules to more closely oversee food handling practices and hold food processors accountable for maintaining the utmost in sanitation practices and procedures.
Ultimately, though, the consumer has the responsibility to prevent cross contamination in the home. People who keep kosher kitchens use separate dishes, silverware, cutting boards and sponges to assure that dairy and meats are kept separate. Some kosher cooks also have additional knives and cutting boards for other items such as vegetables and fruits. The FDA recommends similar practices in the home to prevent contamination that can cause illness.
The strongest recommendation is that the food handlers wash hands thoroughly before and after handling raw foods. In addition to meats, “raw foods” include fruits and vegetables.
Heating to a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit kills most bacteria, but since raw foods such as lettuces will not be heated before they are eaten, extra care must be taken to wash them thoroughly and keep separate from utensils and cutting boards where raw meats have been prepared.
We must understand that contamination happens basically in two ways: As a result of unclean hands that spread disease from human to human or animal to human, and anyplace along the journey from food grower or producer to market, to table due to sub-par handling practices or contact with unclean surfaces.
Foodborne illness is a serious issue that results in illness and even death for untold numbers of people each year.
Whether your kitchen is kosher or not, every food safety organization emphasizes keeping raw meat separate from vegetables to prevent foodborne illness.