Passover paradox: The amazing popularity of kosher foods

March 31, 2010

Here's a paradox for Passover and year-round: With observant Jews numbering barely one million in a United States population of 310 million, why are 40-50 percent of food items on supermarket shelves kosher? Those and other insights into the amazing and constantly growing popularity of kosher foods appear in an article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

C&EN Senior Editor Bethany Halford notes that the number of kosher products on supermarket shelves has grown from about 3,000 in 1970 to more than 70,000 today. Those products meet the strict dietary and preparation standards set by Jewish law. The article explains that the strict standards for kosher foods broaden its appeal to other individuals and other markets. Vegans and vegetarians, for instance, can look to kosher certification for assurance that animal-based products are not in their food. Likewise, Muslims who avoid pork can have confidence that kosher food is pork free.

Ensuring that food products are kosher is no simple task. The article notes that rabbis need to know everything that goes into a product in order to certify it -- right down to the individual molecules that make up various foods. As a result, rabbis who certify food as kosher have to become chemists to a certain degree, in order to understand the chemical composition and origins of food ingredients, the article notes.
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This story is available at http://pubs.acs.org/cen/science/88/8813sci2.html

American Chemical Society

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