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Separating Meat, Dairy and Pareve

Separating 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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Anonymous Roma January 5, 2018

Could I eat a lactose-free mozzarella together with beef? Reply

Anonymous November 21, 2017

Why do some products with the kof-k certification have a small ‘D’ to the right of the kof and others have the word ‘dairy’ underneath? Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for November 23, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

I do not believe there is a specific reason for this, as they both mean the same thing. But if you'd like, you can contact the Kof-K agency directly: Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary NC 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: Reply

caime October 28, 2016

Any examples of hard or soft cheese? Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via 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. Reply

Anonymous Harrisburg 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? Reply

Malkie Janowski for April 8, 2016

No, the word pareve is only used to describe the food, not the person eating it. Reply

Miss. Anonymous April 4, 2016

So could 'Pareve' be used as a noun to describe a person who eats that diet? Thanks! Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for 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. Reply

Mashia Los Angeles 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. Reply

Anonymous Gardner, ma. 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? Reply

Yisroel Cotlar Cary, NC October 16, 2013

Re: 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. Reply

Anonymous New Jersey October 14, 2013

fish and meat Are there kosher laws regarding eating fish with scales and meat together ? Reply Staff via September 12, 2013

To Anonymous Yes, tea and milk is kosher. If you'd like to have tea and milk after a meat meal you'll have to wait until the appropriate time has elapsed. See above for more details. Reply

Anonymous September 12, 2013

Tea with milk Is black tea made with sugar and milk kosher? Reply

mascha hajny December 9, 2012

If one is death and the other life why is cream cheese and lox kosher? Reply

Rabbi Menachem Posner February 12, 2012

To Shlomo You raise a very interesting point. Why was it okay for Abraham to serve milk and meat to the angels (he did not serve it to G-d but to the angels)? You can see a number of answers in Did Abraham Serve his Guests Non-Kosher? Reply

shlomo elk, wa February 8, 2012

Dairy and Meat In Bereishit (Genesis) 18:8 I have read that our father Avraham prepared food for Hashem and two angels that were with Him, that food contained butter, milk and a calf, and it says that they ate. If our Hashem ate it why would he make it a sin for us. In Exodus and Deuteronomy where it talks about boiling a kid in its mother's milk it's in the context of bringing the first fruits of the land on Sukkot to the Temple, neighboring peoples had a witchcraft practice of boiling a baby goat in its mother's milk and then spreading it on their fields and orchards in order to have a better harvest next year, it sounds to me that it wasn't a dietary prohibition but more of a pagan ritual and practice prohibition. If i am mistaken I would like someone to better explain to me about this matter, shalom Reply

Adam Huxley, Iowa December 26, 2011

Re: food In response to: Please explain gen 9:3", This parsha is speaking to Noach, at this time the Jewish people did not exist and the Torah was still a long way away, therefore Noach was not obligated to keep Kosher, there were always clean and unclean animals in terms of what was acceptable in sacrificial terms but not in terms of what was permissible for consumption. Only Jews are obligated to keep the rules of Kashrut. Reply

Anonymous gainesville, fl November 3, 2011

food please explain gen 9:3 Reply

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