Eating only kosher food when visiting, dining out, vacationing or traveling is, of course, just as important as eating kosher at home. Acquaintances and friends may not always understand our unwillingness to eat in all restaurants, but most people will respect us for upholding our principles.

When food is prepared in large quantities with many different ingredients, and a number of people are working in the kitchen, the task of maintaining high standards of kashrut is greatly enlarged. Add to this the pressure of commercial considerations, and the need for kashrut supervision becomes is intensified. A kashrut supervisor (mashgiach) is essential and may be required to be on the premises at all times.

The mashgiach must be present to check all products brought into the establishment, and must also be present during the preparation of the food. Before you dine out, find out who is responsible for the kashrut of the premises. Trustworthy kosher establishments are always willing to answer your questions about the kashrut of their restaurant or service.

The proprietor should be a Shabbat observer, for Shabbat observance is a criterion often used to determine a person's commitment to the Torah and its laws. If the establishment is a hotel, or a restaurant kept open for the purpose of serving holiday meals, the reservations and payment must be taken before the Shabbat or holiday begins.

Meat Restaurants: Like all commercial food manufacturers, meat restaurants require proper supervision to ensure that all laws pertaining to kosher meat (shechitah, permissible cuts, salting, removal of forbidden fats, and separation from dairy) are strictly observed.

In addition, incoming food orders must be strictly supervised in order to prevent the use of foods which are non-kosher or dairy. Further, personnel involved in handling the food require careful supervision because they may not be fully aware of the special requirements of kosher meat. Most meat restaurants also serve fish which, besides having its own special kashrut requirements, may not be mixed with meat. A reliable mashgiach is a necessity.

Vegetarian and Dairy Restaurants: Do not assume that a restaurant is kosher simply because it does not serve meat. In addition to the requirements for a mashgiach and for Shabbat and Yom Tov observance, any of the following may cause problems in a vegetarian restaurant:

  • All fish must be kosher; otherwise the pots, dishes, dishwashers, etc. become non-kosher, and foods prepared in such utensils may not be eaten.
  • All pareve and dairy ingredients must also be kosher in order to maintain the kashrut of utensils and all other foods. All oil or shortening used must be made of pure vegetable products and be rabbinically approved.
  • Certain vegetables and grains must be carefully washed and checked for insects and worms. (See Fruits and Vegetables) Eggs must be inspected for blood spots. (See Eggs)
  • Certain cooked foods must be prepared with the participation of a Jew. (See Baked and Cooked Foods)

Airlines: Most airlines will readily arrange, upon request, a pre-packaged kosher meal at no extra cost. When making your reservation, simply request that they include a kosher meal. The food must be brought to you complete with its wrappers still sealed. It may not be warmed in the airplane's oven once the original wrapper is removed, and may not be handled with non-kosher utensils.

Experienced kosher travelers find that it is wise to call the airline the day before the flight to confirm your request for a kosher meal. Even with these precautions, it is advisable to pack some carry-on snack just in case.