Adhering to the laws of kashrut is infinitely easier in modern days due to kosher symbols that now appear on many packaged goods. The complexities of modern food processing and technology make it difficult to know whether any food is free of any trace of unkosher ingredients. Eateries and processed foods now carry one of more of the hundreds of kosher certifications that give their seal of kosher approval in the United States. These agencies have varying levels of trustworthiness, and it's a good idea to speak with your own local Orthodox Jewish rabbi to determine exactly which labels are acceptable.
The three largest agencies with the most popular kashrut symbols in the United States are OK, established in 1935, OU, the largest certification organization and Kof-K, established in 1968. Other kashrut symbols you may find in your local grocery store include National Kshrut, K'hal Adath Jeshurun, Star-K, Chicago Rabbinical Council and the Vaad Hakashrus of Denver, among others. Each agency has its own symbol that will be found on the food item or eatery. Occasionally, a lone "K" may appear on a package; this does not mean that the item is kosher.
For a list of many many Kosher Symbols and it's description, click here.
Eating only permitted animals and refraining from eating dairy and meat products together is a large part of what kosher means. But this is not all of what kosher means. Simple things like bottled water may need kosher certification due to the fact that the water may be pasteurized on the same equipment that unkosher grape juice was pasteurized on. Certification agencies make sure that these problems don't occur. Many packaged goods also contain flavors, conditioners, emulsifiers and colorings that are not kosher, even in items that may seem innocuous. This is why is is not enough to simply read ingredients on food packages to determine whether or not they are kosher. Words such as "natural flavorings" other additives can be made of nearly anything.
Kosher food baskets and kosher gift baskets must especially have these kosher symbols. Kosher food baskets and kosher gift baskets are widely available, especially during the Purim holiday, when it is a mitzvah, or commandment, to give kosher food baskets to friends and neighbors. Orthodox Jewish communities all over the world follow this strong tradition.
Here are some websites to buy gourmet gifts.
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