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Jun 28, 2008 10:03 AM

Kosher and Grass Fed Meat

So I've recently given up corn fed beef because of all the crap associated with feedlots blah blah blah.

The main thing is what this limits me too. I can't order beef at most places because I'm positive it's corn fed beef. I'll have to decipher labels on beef like when it says "100% vegetarian" or "organic feed" and figure out if it means grass fed beef.

But I've started to wonder about kosher beef. Is corn fed beef kosher? If not does that mean that if a package says "kosher beef" then it's implied that it's grass fed?

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  1. "Kosher" beef is merely preparing the beef in a specific way, so that it is 'kosher' to eat for people who abide by Jewish laws. It is a strict way of slaughtering and preparing/cooking the beef to be eaten. It also pertains to what part(s) of the cow may be eaten - "For beef, this would include the area from the tenth rib forward." (Ever seen the Hebrew National hot dog commercials? "no butts about it")
    There is nothing in the Jewish law that states if a cow should be corn fed or grass fed.
    Kosher beef can be organic or not.
    Check out

    20 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        actually the prohibitioin is against the part of the animal the sciatic nerve runs through which is the rear section of the animal - so if the nerve and the fat surrounding can be removed the rear portion of the animal can be used - in the states this procedure is cost prohibitive and so only the front half odf the animal is used while the rear half is sold to a non-kosher packaging plant - in Israel the production volume i much smaller and many of the slaughter houses are able to remove the nerve so you can have the rear half -

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Sam the daft thing is that they are used there. A specially trained person can remove the veins and sinews of the hindquarters. Why it is not done in other communities I do not know. Hence leg of lamb is available as kosher in Israel.

          1. re: smartie

            weinstein & smartie, thank you. Can a steer be slaughtered in a way that is both kosher and halal, such that the butt can (I assume) be used by muslims?

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka


              You're getting into tricky waters:

              "Jews do not pronounce the name of God on each animal while slaughtering. They feel that uttering the name of God, out of context, is wasteful. Muslims on the other hand pronounce the name of Allah on all animals while slaughtering."


              1. re: RicRios

                I agree with RicRios - very tricky waters - speaking as as someone who keeps Kosher I am confident saf ein saying that someone who keeps kosher will not accept Halal as Kosher

                1. re: weinstein5

                  Sorry, I didn't mean to offend anyone. Just genuinely curious. The answer, apparently, is that Muslims would reject the rear quarters because the steer was slaughtered without pronouncing the name of Allah.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    If that was the only issue, it would be a piece'a cake (pun intended).

                    1. re: RicRios

                      To me the conflict between Palistinians/Arabs/Muslims and Jews is a global tragedy and enormous stupidity of two such great peoples. Both have such a high respect for proper killing of animals--quite similar if one compares practices across the corners of the globe. To me, this discussion gave me a now dashed hope that one could build on the similarities (of halal and kosher) to help build needed bridges of peace--but I guess we'll just have to wait another number of decades or centuries....

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        By long-standing legal decision, almost all Muslims accept kosher meat as halal. The converse is not true; no Jews accept halal meat as kosher.

                        1. re: PSZaas

                          Aha! So would muslims eat the hindquarters?

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            "With Halal slaughtering, the entire carcas is utilized. With Kosher slaughtering, only the front four-quarter of the beef carcass is utilized. The Kosher hind quarters cannot be considered Halal as the Shochet does not adhere to Islamic Law and Halal guidelines and does not pronounce the name of God before each slaughter."


                            1. re: RicRios

                              That's what I understood you to say earlier. So PSZaas is incorrect?

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                The way I read RicRios is that in the US all kosher meat would be considered Halalis ok because the hind quarters are never marked as kosher -

                                1. re: weinstein5


                                  1) Kosher meat is not Halal, among other reasons b/c of the pronouncing the name of God during slaughter issue.

                                  2) Halal meat is not necessarily Kosher, among other reasons b/c Halal uses the hindquarters.

                                  However, as the link from Islamic Services of AmericaI mentioned above states:

                                  "Simply put, Halal and Kosher are similar but yet as different as "vegetarian" and "vegan." However, it is a fact in some situations and circumstances, Kosher consumers accept Halal and some Halal consumers may accept Kosher. "

                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  many muslims (depending on strictness) will accept animals which were slaughtered by other "people of the book," or followers of the god of abraham, (muslims, jews, christians), as halal:

                                  (emphasis is mine, not in original quote)
                                  "The term halal may be used for foods which are considered lawful. Under the Islamic Law, ***all sources of food are lawful** except the following sources, including their products and derivatives which are considered unlawful":


                                  the "backup" for muslims shopping in unfamiliar territory is kosher meat. kosher meat is halal, but halal meat is not necessarily kosher.

                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                    I've been following this discussion as my husband often entertains Muslim visitors, including some who will only eat Halal meat. His understanding was that the name of Allah had to be spoken while the animal was being slaughtered, so I'm still trying to figure out how Kosher meat would be acceptable. Some apparently also require that the meat be cooked by Muslims (leaving my husband, most recently, to ask the cooks in Spanish to cook in the kitchen and not at the grill on view for the guests).

                          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            There is a very easy way for Jews and Muslims to come together over food -- Just agree to have a vegetarian meal. I know lots of vegetarian and vegan Jews (I am one) and from my limited research it appears that it is fine for a Muslim to be vegetarian or vegan.

                            For observant Jews who are strictly kosher there are some constraints in food preparation since they have two sets of dishes, pot and pans, etc. One set for meat and one set for dairy, and the two types of food must always be kept separate. But with proper planning and a little extra work Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, could all come together for a common meal and fellowship.

                            There is no reason for meat to get in the way!

                2. re: smartie

                  I always thought front legs of lamb were Kosher but hind legs not. So you're saying hind legs in Israel have been sufficiently butchered so that they're considered Kosher? I can't believe this isn't done in the US. Wouldn't you think it would be much more lucrative to sell the lamb shanks to a consumer than to sell to a packaging plant. Hmmm?

              2. re: gourmetloveaffair

                Thanks. I guess this means I'm going to have to make my own pastrami and corned beef now.

              3. "Vegetarian" and "Organic Feed" is not the same as grass-fed. Neither is grain-fed. If the cow was fed only grass, it will say so on the label. And it will cost a LOT more than your regular grain- or corn-fed beef.

                1. while I love a kosher chicken, I personally find kosher beef a little tough. the salting process is great at drawing out chicken blood, but unfortunately with beef just makes it much harder to cook and remain tender (not that it can't be done).

                  1. I too have switched to grass fed. Hey, if it's as healthy as wild caught salmon, it's sure gonna be a lot easier to find, and it's what I grew up eating four or five times a week. Second childhood, here I come!

                    My experience in shopping for grass fed on the internet is that if it's grass fed, they tell you about it! Fifteen or twenty times! Organic is not the same as grass fed. It simply means no hormones or pesticieds in their feed or in the cattle. But grass fed often is organic, though it may not always be "certified" organic. But if the animals range free and forage from pastures that are not sprayed with pesticides or other nasties, how can the critters that feed that way be anything but organic?

                    Kosher, as others have explained, neither means grass fed nor organic. It just means dispatched humanely and with a rabbi there. And no sciatic nerve. Though I have never figured out what's wrong with a sciatic nerve! Do fishies have sciatic nerves? If they do, how come it's okay to eat fishie sciatic nerves but not from land critters? All very confusing.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Caroline1

                      The sciatic rule actually comes from the bible - it is a reference to when Jacob wrestled with the angel and hurt his leg - this was translated as being near the sciatic nerve tyypically present in mammals -

                    2. As everyone else said, Vegetarian or Organic labeling has nothing to do with grass fed beef. Not sure why you would decipher it that way. Isn't corn or other grains vegetarian? And can't they be grown organically? If you want to only eat grass fed, you'll have to look for grass fed on the label, nothing else. If a ranch is going to go through the effort to grass feed the cows only, they will most definitely throw that label on. So if you want to eat only grass fed, you can only eat beef labeled grass fed.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: ESNY

                        if I was a rancher, I'd make sure whatever effort I made was right out in front. unless I had a lot I was trying to move fast.

                        1. re: ESNY

                          ESNY, grass fed beef is full of Omega 3s and the good cholesterols whereas any steer that has had grain or other "diet supplements" that we cute little humans have come up with to make the animal put on more weight prior to slaughter will NOT have those. So if you want the health benefits of grass fed, there's only one way to fly! However, some grass fed cattlemen recognize the flavor difference and do offer consumers a choice of strictly grass fed, or by special order they will feed a steer corn for two weeks prior to slaughter. A service for those who prefer their cholesterol in the artery clogging variety.

                          As for "vegetarian" cattle, I think (hope to high heaven!) we have stopped feeding cattle animal meal. That's how mad cow disease was spread more rapidly than in nature. Cows digestive systems are not meant to handle animal proteins, so when "animal meal" was fed to them as an economic measure, it turned out to be incredibly expensive! All forms of cattle are vegetarians, though not necessarily organically fed. <sigh> Man's greatest curse is man.

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Now the question is, what restaurants (especially here in Orlando) has anyone actually encountered that are serving grass-fed beef? I haven't seen one yet.

                            1. re: jadea3

                              If there are, Google doesn't know about them yet. <sigh>

                            2. re: Caroline1

                              Caroline, my understanding is that we haven't stopped feeding animal meal to cattle. We have stopped feeding cow directly to cow, but instead feed cows waste, meat, bone, etc. from other types of animals such as chickens and pigs (this doesn't count rendered cow fat which is also, as I understand it, still fed to cows). But, since the chickens and pigs may still be fed cow products, when the cow eats the chicken and pig parts...well, you get the picture.

                              1. re: snyderico

                                Yup. Man's worst enemy is still man.