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Aug 8, 2008 06:30 AM

Milk in Iceland?


I'm travelling to Iceland in a few weeks. We're planning to bring all of our own food, but I was wondering about the status of the milk in Iceland. Does anyone know if all milk is acceptable? Some brands?

Thank you.

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  1. outside of the USA (except maybe Israel) you can not rely on milk unless it's cholov Yisroel milk (milked by a Jew or with a Jew present) Rabbi Moshe Feinstein ZTL poskened that one can rely on non-Jewish milk in the USA because of USDA inspection

    19 Replies
    1. re: berel


      Get yourself some milk that was milked for the purposes of making cheese, and you shouldn't have any problem. You can't eat cheese, because it's gevinas akum, but you can be sure that milk obtained by them for the purposes of cheese production is kosher to drink.

      1. re: ganeden

        I'm not that familar with cheese making

        1. how would one find milk milked for cheese in Iceland?

        2. how do you know only "kosher" milk can be used to make cheese?

        1. re: berel

          Because pig cheese would suck?

          I'd guess because cheesemakers are exact with their ingredients and thus, the milk would not be mixed.

          1. re: DeisCane

            is there anything in halacha(or a posek who says) that says one can trust a cheesemaker or cheese milk farmer?

            1. re: berel

              Milk from non-ruminant animals does not lend itself to cheese-making because of the quality of the milk fat. It's by no means a halachic standard, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a cheesemaker who'd accept adulterated milk.

              There is a halachic reckoning (I've not seen the science to support it) that "kosher" milk curdles naturally while non-kosher milk does not -- leading to the recent determination that giraffe milk is Kosher, but adding rennet to any milk will make it curdle.

              1. re: ferret

                Ferret, adding rennet to any milk will make it thicken, but not form curds, unless it's kosher milk.

            2. re: DeisCane


              Exactly. Since the nonkosher milk won't coagulate properly, the nonJewish cheesemaker will make sure it's only kosher milk- for his own purposes, because it's in his best interests.

            3. re: berel



              1) don't know
              2) that's the halachic standard. Other milks thiccken like yoghurt, but don't produce curds. Witness mare's milk, which is used extensively in Russia for various fermented and renet-produced foods, which does not curdle in the presense of either acid or rennet. Thus, halachic literature pretty much says that only the milk of kosher animals can be used to make cheese, and that while a mixture might produce cheese with nonkosher milk trapped within the matrix, one can be certain that a nonJew who is using the milk for his own purposes of making cheese will not desire nonkosher milk mixed with it, because that milk will not curdle. Therefore, if the milk is specifically produced for nonkosher cheese production, one can be lenient, since they wouldn't "shoot themselves in the foot" (meaning it's in their best interest to only have kosher milk).

              1. re: berel

                1. There is only one way: buy it from a cheese factory. No, that's not a practical solution - this isn't a practical thing to do.

                2. General note: there is no such thing as USDA inspection of milk sold for general consumption. The USDA supervises meat, not milk.

                1. re: zsero


                  Not true, Zev. All federal and state department of agriculture protocols must be followed in milk production, and milk production is indeed supervised. USDA also regulates prices, and has standards of identity for various types and grades.

                  1. re: ganeden

                    You could always bring some powdered milk if this all sounds too complicated!

                    1. re: ganeden

                      Looking at the USDA web site you can easily see that the Food Safety Inspection Service supervises meat, poultry, and eggs. Not milk. So what part of the USDA supervises milk? Has anyone ever seen a USDA logo on milk? Where do people get the idea that the USDA has any interest in the milk that they buy at the supermarket?

                      I know there are USDA rules for milk used in manufacturing, which comes under some marketing program, but if you claim that the it suprvises consumer milk, please point me to the relevant part of the USDA web site.

                      1. re: zsero

                        Lets not be xenophobic, most civilized countries have some kind of governmental inspection. Stop wasting people's time with meaningless discussion. Clearly no-one here has information about milk in Iceland and whether it is inspected or not.

                        1. re: EvanM

                          Question is, what are they inspecting it *for*? Americans have some very strange hangups about their food, that most people don't share. In many countries they probably couldn't care less if their milk isn't all cow, and their inspection services may simply not bother looking for that. So long as it's safe to drink, why should they care what animal it came from?

                        2. re: zsero


                          Seems I'm mistaken. Sorry Zev. I know when I was in Davis, USDA was involved. Now it seems to be the FDA overseeing the individual state Departments of Agricuture, and the USDA may indeed be out of the business of consumer milk, and the current CFR Standards of Identity were written by the FDA.

                          1. re: zsero

                            USDA, FDA, State Depts,. it's semantics.

                            my point was R Feinsteins ZTL heter for cholov stam in the USA was that there are inspections

                            1. re: berel

                              Not really. Or rather, that's only a small part of it. There's inspection and regulation of meat, but it can't be relied on for kashrut purposes.

                              RMF's heter ultimately rests on the following:

                              1. The prohibition on chalav aku"m is only relevant when we're already reasonably certain that the milk supply is at least 60/61 from kosher animals. If we're not, then we don't need a prohibition on chalav aku"m, it would be forbidden anyway because it might be treif.

                              2. The prohibition only comes into effect when the milk passes into the possession of a Jew, and he need only witness that the last non-Jew to possess it didn't adulterate it; as far as what previous owners did with it, one can rely on a general reasonable certainty that milk in the USA comes from cows unless it's otherwise stated.

                              3. Certainty beyond reasonable doubt is as good as witnessing something with ones own eyes. So if one buys the milk in a sealed carton, and one can be certain beyond reasonable doubt that the non-Jewish retailer didn't steam open the carton and adulterate the milk, then that's as good as if one had actually supervised the milk from the moment that it was delivered to the retailer. Step 2 says that one needn't worry about what happened before then.

                              4. Even if one buys from a Jewish retailer, or direct from the non-Jewish dairy company, one can be certain beyond reasonable doubt that nothing untoward happened at the company, because the potential profit from mixing treif milk into the supply is so small that it's less than the expense and effort that would be required to keep it secret in a corporate environment. Companies will cheat and switch treif for kosher, and can't be trusted, but only if there's a profit to be made by doing so; nobody is going to go to the trouble and expense of bribing inspectors and workers just so they can sneak a can of horse milk into the cow milk tank. So the dairy company is in the same position as the retailer.

                              5. Which leaves the farmer himself. And the farmer can NOT be trusted; reasonable certainty that the milk is not adulterated is not enough; one needs an eye witness, or certainty so strong as to be just like an eye witness, and that does not exist with a farmer. Therefore it is absolutely forbidden to buy milk directly from a non-Jewish farmer, without personally supervising the milking. RMF writes that there is no heter in the world for this.

                  2. re: berel

                    The milk in the UK isn't kosher? Since when?

                  3. If you are really stuck, why not consider taking a carton or two of long shelf life "parmalat"?

                    1. NYclw:

                      I have been to Iceland twice. In Reykavik there are two outstanding vegetarian [possibly vegan restaurants]. Additionally, the supermarkets have some [not many]american products like philadelphia cream cheese and packaged fish products with a recognized hecksher on the label.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: meateater

                        Thank you all for your helpful tips. I'm sure the US is not the only country with government standards for inspecting milk, but perhaps there's no way to know if the Iceland government inspects milk sufficiently. Perhaps I will ask the OU or find some reliable authority in the UK to ask.
                        I would consider taking the parmalat cartons, or even powdered milk (just add water!) that I've seen in the supermarket, but my husband is picky about those kinds of things, so I thought I'd find our about fresh milk if I could,

                        1. re: NYclw

                          Just make sure you go to the blue lagoon and do the golden circle tour.