Glatt Kosher

The name for this particular practice has come to stand for more stringent kashrut standards in general.

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It should be emphasized that [Isserles's] ruling is certainly legitimate and, in theory, non-glatt meat, if inspected properly, is 100% kosher for Ashkenazim. Today, the Orthodox Union (and most other kashrut organizations in the U.S.) will only certify meat that is glatt, albeit not necessarily glatt Bet Yosef. An important postscript is that [Isserles's] ruling is defined as non-applicable to young, tender animals such as lamb, kid, and calf (YD 39:13). Therefore, all lamb chops, veal, or other meat from young animals must be glatt Bet Yosef, even for Ashkenazim.

From the above explanation, it is clear that referring to chicken, fish, or dairy products as glatt is a misuse of the term. In addition, even when referring to meat, it only attests to the status of the lung, but makes no comment about the standards of, for example, the [slaughtering procedure].

Misconceptions about the meaning of glatt are so widespread that, for many, the term glatt has colloquially taken on the implication of a higher standard, similar to the term mehadrin. In addition, some caterers or stores may have only one kashrut sticker that they use on all products, and hence the sticker on the corned beef sandwich and on the omelette will both say "glatt kosher." Although it is technically inaccurate to label chicken, fish, lamb, or dairy products as glatt, it is not uncommon to find such labeling. In the majority of cases, it is probably not being done to mislead; but in some instances it may be intended to imply that the product was processed under a superior hashgahah [rabbinic supervision], as per the term's informal usage.

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Rabbi Ari Z. Zivotofsky

Rabbi Dr. Ari Zivotofsky does research in neurophysiology at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. He is also a certified shohet u-vodek (ritual slaughterer). This article was prepared with the cooperation of Rabbi Yehuda Kravitz of the Orthodox Union Kashrut Department.