Avoiding Unclean Ingredients in Commercial Products

(Last updated 1/23/18)

Searching through the ingredient labels of various foods for evidence of unclean organisms can be a time consuming process. Thankfully, some companies are willing to increase their sales by adding "Kosher symbols" to their packaging. The presence of a Kosher Symbol on packaging means that a Jewish organization has been given full access to the manufacturing facility and examined the ingredients to ensure that there is nothing unclean in the product.

Each organization has their trademarked symbol. If the product has one of these symbols on the packaging, it should be safe to use:

Download/print here: http://www.eliyah.com/images/kosher-symbols.png

The most common symbol by far is the U with a circle around it. The K with a circle and cRc are also fairly common. If you want to save this graphic, you can right click and choose "save image as.." or "save picture as.." to save it to your hard drive. You can also print it from a web browser by clicking this link and then clicking "File" then "Print."

If you prefer to do the research yourself, here is a list of ingredients to watch for:

Ingredients that are ALWAYS unclean:

Alpha Amytase 
Source: hog pancreas. Use: in flour to breakdown any starches.

Source: whale intestine. Use: flavoring (also used in perfume).

Carmine (Cochineal)
Source: insect. A crimson pigment derived from a Mexican species of scale insect (coccus cacti). Use: coloring in red apple sauce, fruit cocktail, confections, baked goods, meats, and species. Fairly common.

Civet, Absolute
Source: cats. Use: flavoring for beverages, ice cream, ices, candy, baked goods and chewing gum.

Emu Oil
Source: Emu. Use: Dietary Supplement

Krill Oil
Source: Krill, a crustacean. Use: Dietary Supplement

Ingredients that MAY be unclean, depending on the source. Check with the manufacture to see what the source is:

Acetic Acid
Sources: plant juices, milk, oil petroleum and sometimes muscles. It is the final product of aerobic fermentation. When it is from petroleum, it is clean.

Sources: blood (serum albumin), milk (dairy), eggs. Use: coagulant and stiffener in baked goods.

Calcium Stearate
Source: a compound of calcium and stearic acid. (Important, see Stearic Acid) Use: anticaking ingredient in some spices (especially garlic salt and onion salt) and extensively in tablets.

Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate
Source: Animal or vegetable mineral. A chemical reaction of stearic acid and lactic acid. Use: as a dough conditioner, whipping agent and as a conditioner in dehydrated potatoes.

Carbon Black
Source: Possibly synthetic, vegetable, or from animal bones, blood, meat or various fats and oils and resins. Use: black coloring in confectionery.

Source: milk, hence dairy. Uses: stabilizer for confectionary, texturizer for ice cream and sherbets, or a replacement for egg albumin. Precipitated by acid or by animal or vegetable enzymes.

Source: cow liver. use: coagulant.

Choline Bitartrate
Source: animal tissue. Use: nutrient (B complex vitamin).

Cysteine L Form
Source: an amino acid, human and horse, or synthetic (sometimes from deceased women). Use: nutrient in baking products. Very common in breads and may not be listed in the ingredients.

Dough Conditioners 
Source: calcium stearoyl~2 Lactylate, or animal fat. Use: to improve the texture of bread. Often it will contain mono and diglycerides.

Source: fats (animal or vegetable, synthetic.) Use: binding oils and water, thickening, a preservative in baked goods, reducing ice crystals and air bubbles in ice cream. Common in breads.

Source: animal or vegetable. Substances that are solid at room temperature are fats; those that are liquid at room temperature are oils. Fatty Acids Source: animal or vegetable fats. Use: emulsifiers, binder, lubricants.

FD&C Colors
Source: May contain Pork glycerin as a solvent.

Source: Animal or vegetable.

Source: see mono and diglycerides. Glycine source: gelatin, animal or vegetable oil, sometimes used in cereals. Also as a flavor enhancer.

Glycerol Monostearate
Source: glycerol monostearate may be of animal origin.

Source: animal fat, petroleum, or vegetable. Use: as a solvent or humectants (maintains the desired level of moisture).

Gum Base 
Source: trees (chicle, natural rubber, etc.) synthetic butyl rubber, paraffin, polyethylene, vinyl, resin, glycerin, glycerol monostearate. Use: in the manufacture of chewing gums. Glycerin may be animal source. 

Iron Oxide
Source: Iron may come from pig. May be in medicines.

L Cysteine Form
Source: an amino acid, human and horse, or synthetic (sometimes from deceased women). Use: nutrient in baking products. Very common in breads and may not be listed in the ingredients.

Source: animal or vegetable fats. Use: shortening, flavoring, thickener.

Lysine, L and DL Forms 
Sources: casein, fibrin, blood. Usually synthesized.

Magnesium Stearate 
Source: stearic acid. From (animal) tallow, vegetable oils or synthetic. Use: anti caking agent.

Mono and Diglycerides 
Source: animal and vegetable. Use: stabilizer, emulsifier, softener, preservative. Most are animal products. Mono and diglycerides do not necessarily have to be listed in the ingredients.

Natural flavors 
Information: Can animal based, and (rarely) may contain unclean products such as Castoreum (beaver anal gland secretion). 

Natural fruit flavors 
Information: concentrated under vacuum or freeze dried. Concentrated fruit pulp that is used in confectionery usually requires fortification with some synthetic flavor. Can contain grape juice, as well as unclean substances.

Oleic Acid 
Source: fats and oils (animal or vegetable). Use: defoaming, flavoring.

Source: Glycerides, stearic acid. Use: prevents oil from clouding.

Ox Bile 
Source: ox bile. Use: preservative and emulsifier in dried egg whites. May be contaminated.

Pepper Cream
Source: herb. Use: spice. Requires diglycerides or other emulsifiers to mix.

Pepsin ft
Source: enzyme, usually extracted from hog stomachs, but can be synthetic. Use: coagulant in cheese. Can be produced from clean animals.

Poryglycerol Esters of Fatty Acids 
Source: fats and oils, animal or vegetable.

Polysorbate 60,65,80 
Source: stearic acid (also called Tween). Use: emulsifiers, especially in "non-dairy" products.

Release Agents 
Source: oils, mineral oil, mono glycerides or synthetic. Use: keeps heated foods from sticking to equipment, utensils, and packaging. These need not be listed in the ingredients.

Source: animal enzymes. Derived from the lining membranes of the stomach of suckling calves or unclean animals. Use: coagulant and curdling agent especially in cheese and other dairy products. A vegetable enzyme similar to rennet is available as a substitute.

Resinous Glaze 
Source: insect secretion. Use: coating candies and pills. While there are authorities who permit these glazes on the grounds that they are non edible, there are other authorities who forbid them. 

Serum Albumin 
Source: blood. See Albumin. Not clean. Rennin see Rennet. 

Source: insect secretion. Use: in glaze for confectionery products and in chocolate panning. See Resinous Glazes. 

Source: oil. Use: to make baked goods light and flaky. Factories often make animal and vegetable shortenings on the same equipment.

Sodium Casinate 
Source: milk and cheese. Use: texturizer in "non dairy" creamers and instant mashed potatoes. Enzyme from cheese may be unclean.

Sodium Propionate 
Source: synthetic origin or rarely it is made from cheese. Use: mold preventative. Enzyme from cheese may be unclean.

Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
Source: Animal or vegetable mineral. Chemical reaction of stearic acid and lactic acid.

Source: animal or vegetable. Use: in chewing gum.

Sorbitan Monostearate 
Source: Stearic acid. Use: emulsifier, defoamer, flavor disperser.

see Polysorbate. 

Stearic Acid 
Source: animal or vegetable oil. Use: in butter and vanilla flavoring, softener in chewing gum.

Stearyl Lactylic Acid 
Source: fats and oils. Use: emulsifier.

Thiodipropionic Acid 
Source: synthetic. Use: preservative, or from cheese that may be contaminated with unclean enzyme.

Source: herb. Use: spice. As a powder: (Often used in its oleo resin form for use in pickling brine and mustard with glycearides added.)

Source: bean. Use: flavoring, it may be processed with glycerin.

Vitamin D
Source: Possibly from pork source. Common in milk.

Source: milk, hence dairy. Use: binder and flavoring agent. Since it is obtained in the manufacture of cheese, cheese may contain unclean enzyme.

Yellow #5
Source: If in liquid form, pork glycerin may be used as a carrier.

In addition to the above, there are some kinds of medications that are unclean.
Here is a list of the most common:

** Medicines rarely contain kosher symbols **

Acth (Adrenocorticotropin) -
From the pig's pituitary gland used to treat Leukemia, cystic fibrosis, gout and arthritis

From the pig's adrenal glands

Crushed hog or possibly bovine (cow) bones

Used to promote healing and remove dead skin tissue

A gel used with injections (gelatin) Vegetable is available.

Used to treat heart disease from pig adrenal glands

From the pig's intestinal mucosa, for blood clotting

Made from the pig's pancreas gland (beef available)

Used for thyroid dysfunctions (At one time was taken from the pig's thyroid, but might be synthetic now. Check with a pharmacist).

Made from the pig's stomach for the treatment of ulcers

Pill Capsules 
More and more popularly made from gelatin. Monostearates (which holds the powder together) are a common pork derivative. Shiny coated pills are often covered with a thin gelatin coating.

From the pig's pancreas used as a digestive aid and for chronic pancreatitis

Used for indigestion in stomach coaters (enzymes)

Extract from pig ovaries used for menopausal syndromes

Thyroxine and thyrotopine
Thyroid preparations made from the pig's thyroid.

Home | E-mail list | Request printed copy of this page | Search | |