Shechita - Religious Slaughter
The basic rules about which animals & birds are kosher are set out in Leviticus, chapter 11.
Animals must have cloven hooves and chew the cud, for example goats, sheep & cattle. The Torah lists only the birds which are forbidden to eat, such as ostriches, owls and vultures. We cannot be sure, however, of the true identity of the species listed. By tradition, we can only eat poultry such as duck, chicken, goose and turkey.
Shechita and Bedikos:
Kosher meat and poultry must be prepared by shechita, a swift cut by a razor-sharp knife, which Jews believe to be the most painless means of slaughtering an animal. Only highly trained Jewish personnel can be Shochtim (slaughterers). After shechita, the animal must undergo a thorough inspection (bedika) to check if there are any blemishes to the lungs which according to Jewish law render it unkosher. The inspection of cattle and lamb is a rigorous procedure to check the lungs both whilst still within the animal and then another inspection once it has been removed.
This is where the term ‘glatt kosher’ comes from. In the case of cattle, if the lung is free of adhesions, it is termed ‘glatt’ - smooth. If there are adhesions, the animal may still be kosher, though not glatt, provided these leave no hole when they are taken off. With regards to poultry, the lungs, intestines and the tendon junctions are inspected to ensure they are no blemishes making the bird unfit for Kosher.
Nikur - Porging (Beef & Lamb)
With regards to Beef and Lamb, there is another process - nikur, porging. This entails the removal of a number of veins and forbidden fats. Because porging is so tricky in the hindquarters of an animal, it is not carried out in most Diaspora communities and this part of the animal is sold to the non-Jewish market. The porging is a specialised job which must be carried out by someone highly trained.
Melicha - Salting
Finally, to be fit for kosher use, both Beef and poultry must be drained of any remaining blood - the consumption of which is strictly forbidden by the Torah. That is why it must be soaked and salted before food preparation.
To ensure that the Kosher consumer is indeed eating Kosher Meat and Poultry, they must be doubled sealed until consumption using personalised seals provided by the Kosher certifier.
Rabbi checking the knife
Inspection of tendon junction
Checking the lungs
Checking the intestines
Checking the lungs of cattle