Kosher foods are divided into three categories: meat, dairy and pareve. One of the basic principles of kashrut (the laws of kosher) 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 and 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. It is useful to have some separate pareve utensils as well.


The kosher kitchen contains separate sets of utensils and preparation areas for meat and dairyThe category of meat includes meat, fowl, and their byproducts, such as bones, soup or gravy. Any food made with these foods is considered “meaty,” or fleishig (Yiddish). Even a small amount of meat in a food can cause it to be fleishig. All these products must come from a kosher animal, properly slaughtered and prepared according to the dietary laws.


All foods derived from or containing milk are considered dairy, or milchig. 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.

Note: Some “non-dairy” creamers, candy, cereal and margarine do contain milk derivatives, as do some low-calorie sweeteners.


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 are common pareve foods. Other pareve foods include pasta, soft drinks, coffee and tea, and many types of candy and snacks.

All products—meat, dairy or pareve—that have been processed in any way should be bought only if they bear reliable kosher certification.

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