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Meat, Dairy and Pareve

Meat, Dairy and Pareve


Kosher foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve. One of the basic principles of kashrut is the total separation of meat and dairy products. Meat and dairy may not be cooked or eaten together. To ensure this, the kosher kitchen contains separate sets of dishes, utensils, cookware, and separate preparation areas for meat and dairy. A third category, pareve, is comprised of foods which are neither meat nor dairy and may therefore be eaten with either.

Following is a detailed description of meat, dairy, and pareve foods, and practical guidelines for cooking and serving the foods within each category according to kashrut specifications.


The category of meat includes meat, fowl and their byproducts, such as bones, soup or gravy. Any food made with meat or fowl, or with meat or fowl products, is considered "meaty;" also called fleishig (Yiddish). Even a small amount of meat in a food can cause it to be fleishig. All meat, fowl and meat parts in any product, including items such as liver pills, must come from a kosher animal that was slaughtered, examined, and its blood drained off according to the dietary laws to be considered kosher.


All foods derived from or containing milk are considered dairy, or milchig (Yiddish). This includes milk, butter, yogurt and all cheese -- hard, soft and cream. Even a small amount of dairy in a food can cause the food to be considered dairy. All dairy products require kosher certification. They must meet the following criteria in order to be certified kosher:

  • They must come from a kosher animal.
  • All ingredients must be kosher and free of meat derivatives. Non-kosher dairy products are often made with ingredients of animal origin. For example, hard cheese is made with rennet, yogurt sometimes contains gelatin, and butter may contain non-kosher additives.
  • They must be processed on kosher equipment.

Many kinds of "non-dairy" creamers, candy, cereal and margarine do contain milk derivatives, as do some low-calorie sweeteners. Dairy ingredients whose names appear on many product labels include caseinate, lactose and whey.


Foods that are neither meat nor dairy are called pareve. This means that they contain no meat or dairy derivatives, and have not been cooked or mixed with any meat or dairy foods.

Eggs, fish, fruit, vegetables, grains, and juices in their natural, unprocessed state are common pareve foods. Other pareve foods include pasta, soft drinks, coffee and tea, and many types of candy and snacks. Products that have been processed in any way should be bought only if they bear reliable kosher certification.

Although pareve foods present fewer kashrut complexities than either meat or dairy foods, certain points must be kept in mind:

  • Pareve foods may lose their pareve status if processed on dairy equipment or when additives are used. The label may give no indication of this processing. Chocolate, cookies and other snacks should not be used with meat or meaty foods unless they are certified pareve.
  • Certain fruits, vegetables and grains must be checked for the presence of small insects and larvae (See Vegetables and Kashrut
  • )
  • Eggs must be checked for the presence of blood spots (See Eggs)

For more information on the status of pareve foods, see Serving Pareve Foods.

Separating Meat and Dairy

Meat and dairy foods may not be cooked together or eaten together. One may not even derive benefit from a combination of meat and dairy foods; for example, selling such a combined product or feeding it to a pet.

To ensure this total separation, the kosher kitchen requires the use of separate utensils, accessories and appliances for meat and dairy. It is useful to have some separate pareve utensils as well.

For a complete guide to setting up and maintaining the separation between meat and dairy see The Kosher Kitchen.

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Discussion (22)
November 4, 2016
Hard Cheeses
Most regular cheeses (cheddar, mozzarella, Muenster, etc) are considered soft cheeses. Hard cheeses are aged. Parmesan and many types of Montasio are examples.

A complete list here:
Yisroel Cotlar
Cary NC
October 28, 2016
Any examples of hard or soft cheese?
August 17, 2016
To Anonymous
The traditional challah recipes actually call for oil as opposed to butter. Eggs and sugar are kosher (the eggs need to be checked for bloodspots) and can be used for challah consumed on Shabbat.
Mrs. Chana Benjaminson
August 16, 2016
making challah you have to use butter, eggs and sugar and that is not kosher, what do you do? can it be made without those items?
April 8, 2016
No, the word pareve is only used to describe the food, not the person eating it.
Malkie Janowski for
April 4, 2016
So could 'Pareve' be used as a noun to describe a person who eats that diet? Thanks!
Miss. Anonymous
December 1, 2015
Re: Very explicit info. all but
Only meat and dairy should not be mixed. Pareve can go with either.

And you're right, there are no health benefits, unless you count the spiritual benefits. The only reason to observe these laws is because G-d said so, not for any physical advantage.
Eliezer Zalmanov
November 30, 2015
Unanswered question answered with a question lol
So why is cream cheese and lox kosher if (kaballahlly speaking) that meat is death and milk is life and shouldn't be mixed?


Btw please do not "correct" my name to mascha, my name is Mashia.
Los Angeles
November 27, 2015
Very explicit info. all but
Very explicit information on how to keep the three groups apart, but nothing about why. what is the health disadvantage, or benefit?
Gardner, ma.
October 16, 2013
The Talmud writes that Fish and meat should not be cooked or eaten together. However, unlike milk and meat, fish and meat may be eaten at the same meal as separate courses. Silverware and plates which have been used for fish may only be used for meat after they have been washed.
Yisroel Cotlar
Cary, NC
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